Drug Overdose Deaths Soared in Pennsylvania in 2015

The state's drug overdose death rate was 26 per 100,000 people, up from 21 per 100,000 people the prior year, and heroin and/or at least one opioid were present in 81 percent of those who died overdoses in 2015.

Gary Tuggle, who is the special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Philadelphia Division, announced July 12 that 3,383 drug-related overdose deaths were reported in Pennsylvania in 2015, which was a 23.4 percent increase from the overdose deaths reported during 2014.

DEA released its "Analysis of Drug-Related Deaths in Pennsylvania, 2015" report at a news conference held at the DEA field division office in Philadelphia. It is the second comprehensive analysis of illegal drug and pharmaceutical overdose deaths in Pennsylvania's 67 counties and the first year-to-year comparison with 2014 data.

According to DEA, key findings in the report include that the state's drug overdose death rate was 26 per 100,000 people, up from 21 per 100,000 people the prior year, and that heroin and/or at least one opioid were present in 81 percent of those who died of overdoses in 2015.

"The abuse of illicit street drugs and diverted pharmaceuticals continues to take too many lives and destroys families across Pennsylvania and the nation at large," Tuggle said. "It is imperative that law enforcement, health care and treatment professionals, elected officials, and community groups work together to address the factors impacting availability, use, and abuse of these drugs."

DEA worked with the Philadelphia-Camden High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, coroners and medical examiners in the state to prepare the report.

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