In 2016 over 3,000 Pennsylvanians died from an opioid overdose, according to the special assistant to the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs in Pennsylvania Kenneth Martz. This is a battle that the state and citizens must ban together to combat.
By Myaah Morgan
SHIPPENSBURG – Pennsylvania State Representative Mark Keller and U.S. Representative Lou Barletta teamed up to host a heroin and opioid epidemic forum at Shippensburg University in the Ceddia Union Building’s Multi-purpose room.
The opioid epidemic was the only one initiated by a pharmaceutical company, says medical director of Holy Spirit Medical Group, Dr. Carrie Delone. In 1996 Purdue Pharmaceuticals introduced oxycodone to the public. The pharmaceutical company forwarded 36,000 vouchers to U.S. citizens for free 30-day trials of oxycodone. At the time, it was the only medication marketed to the public and it was done “aggressively” and “willingly marketed and profited” from a harmful drug to humans, says Delone.
Today the “most common way people are procuring prescription opioids are from friend and family members,” says Martz. In 2015 over 30,000 people died from opioid overdoses. Martz says, “80 percent of those with heroin addiction started with prescription opioids.” As a first step to resolve the epidemic, Pennsylvania has implemented over 500 drug take-back boxes across the state. They are safe places for people to drop their extra prescription drugs off. For locations of drop boxes and more information on the opioid and heroin epidemic click here.