Gov. Wolf to issue statewide disaster declaration in Pa. opioid epidemic

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But the long-term solution requires a more systemic, coordinated response.

Last year, Philadelphia began implementing recommendations from Mayor Jim Kenney's Heroin Task Force, including increasing access to medicine-assisted treatment and court diversion programs.

Wolf's action creates an Opioid Command Center at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, to foster better coordination t among state police and departments of Health, and Drug and Alcohol, and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

It was the biggest jump in any state except Florida, and leaves the commonwealth with the fourth-highest rate of overdose death in the country. With the governor's order, the state will waive that requirement so that other health care professionals can give the go-ahead to get people into drug treatment as soon as possible.

Wolf's move comes as he faces criticism from one of the Republican candidates vying for the nomination to challenge his re-election bid in November that the state hasn't provided the leadership, resources or attention that the crisis deserves. The state launched a prescription drug monitoring program to cut down on doctor shopping and identify pill mills. The Office of Attorney General arrests on average more than four drug dealers a day.

Among the declaration's specifics are 13 key initiatives that are the culmination of a collaboration between state agencies.

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"This declaration while it's not a silver bullet".

The emergency proclamation covers 90 days because that's the maximum allowed by law. Administration officials said there has already been discussion about extending it into the future.

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey's office put out a statement stressing efforts taken by Congress and the president to tackle the problem.

The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP) today noted its support for the Governor's declaration of Pennsylvania's heroin and opioid addiction crisis as a statewide disaster emergency. This declaration will bring additional resources to bear on this horrific public health emergency that has ripped apart far too many families. "As providers of drug and alcohol prevention and treatment programs, counties are seeing firsthand the impact of the ever-increasing opioid epidemic, which touches lives from all backgrounds in our communities".

Governor Wolf made the decision based on the continuing crisis and the devastating numbers associated with the epidemic. Most overdose data is only available in cases of death, she said, describing the opioid problem as the "worst public health crises we have faced in Pennsylvania in more than a generation".

- Allow pharmacists to partner with other organizations to increase access to naloxone upon discharge from facilities such as treatment centers and jails.

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