Drug Enforcement Administration


Jonathan A. Wilson, Special Agent in Charge

August 21, 2018

Contact: SSA Patrick Trainor

Phone Number: (571) 362-5391

DEA Announces 5,456 drug-related overdose deaths in Pennsylvania in 2017


PHILADELPHIA – Jon Wilson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Philadelphia Field Division, announced today that 5,456 drug-related overdose deaths[1] were reported by coroners and medical examiners in Pennsylvania for 2017.  This number represents a rate of 42 deaths per 100,000 people and a 64% increase in overdose deaths from 2015 to 2017.

The DEA Philadelphia Field Division will be releasing a report entitled The Opioid Threat in Pennsylvania next month. This report was prepared in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy’s Program Evaluation Research Unit, Pennsylvania Opioid Overdose Reduction Technical Assistance Center and presents a comprehensive assessment of the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania through collection and analysis of supply and demand indicators and intelligence, as well as detailed county level analysis of multiple opioid misuse data sources.

A summary of key findings from the upcoming report indicates that heroin sourced from Mexican transnational criminal organizations presents a persistent and pervasive drug threat in Pennsylvania, and that the heroin threat to Pennsylvania is exacerbated by the unprecedented proliferation of clandestinely-produced fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances.

The presence of fentanyl was noted in more than 67% of drug-related overdose deaths in Pennsylvania in 2017; the presence of fentanyl-related substances in overdose deaths rose almost 400% from 2015 to 2017, with 17 distinct fentanyl-related substances detected in overdose deaths in 2017.

Upon release, The Opioid Threat in Pennsylvania will provide a timely and actionable depiction of the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania.

Members of the media wanting additional information are asked to contact DEA Public Information Officer Patrick J. Trainor at either (215) 852-8740 or patrick.j.trainor@usdoj.gov


[1] Total includes deaths determined to be accidental or undetermined; does not include suicides, homicides (other than Lycoming County), or natural deaths.

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