Heroin and Opioid Crisis Claims Lives of 15 Pennsylvanians per day and Costs Pennsylvania $53 Billion in Health Care, Addiction Treatment, Criminal Justice and Lost Productivity
HARRISBURG — Ahead of President Trump’s visit to northeast Pennsylvania this evening, Attorney General Josh Shapiro today sent a letter to the President encouraging him to follow through on his promises to take meaningful action to combat the heroin and opioid crisis in Pennsylvania and throughout the United States.
In the letter, Attorney General Shapiro expressed frustration, citing statistics from the Centers for Disease Control that state the Commonwealth loses an average of 15 Pennsylvanians to accidental overdoses every day – totaling 5,400 deaths per year. The epidemic has cost the Commonwealth $53 billion to-date in fatalities, health care spending, addiction treatment, criminal justice and lost productivity.
“Today you are visiting Luzerne County, a community that lost 160 people to opioid overdoses last year alone,” Attorney General Shapiro wrote to President Trump in the letter. “As the Commonwealth’s chief law enforcement officer, combating the heroin and opioid epidemic is my top priority. This public health crisis shows no signs of slowing down, and we must do everything we can to try to stop it. The people of Luzerne County – and the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania – need your help, in the form of meaningful action and resources from the federal government.”
President Trump committed to taking on addiction when he took office in January 2017. In March 2017, he established the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, led by former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. The President declared a public health emergency on the opioid epidemic in October 2017, which Attorney General Shapiro commended.
Shortly thereafter, the Commission held its last meeting and issued its final report – which included 56 recommendations. As Attorney General Shapiro writes in today’s letter, this list of recommendations has not been meaningfully acted upon.
“Funding for a variety of initiatives is a key part of the solution. But, while you pledged to spend ‘the most money ever on the opioid crisis,’ not nearly enough new federal funding has been allocated. To compound this lack of resources, key federal positions either remain unfilled—including leadership for the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Office of National Drug Control Policy—or are staffed with individuals who are unqualified to address a public health epidemic,” the letter states.
“Use your powers as the chief executive of the federal government to take meaningful steps to address the opioid crisis,” Attorney General Shapiro pleads in his letter to President Trump. “We cannot win this fight without your unequivocal support in the form of real action and meaningful resources.”
# # #