Prosecutors, senator hold opioid forum after 9 Franklin County overdose deaths

Opioid Crisis

State and local prosecutors teamed up with a state lawmaker to hold a forum about ways to prevent prescription opioid abuse after the death of nine people in Franklin County. 

The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, Franklin County District Attorney Matt Fogal, and state Sen. Richard Alloway hosted the forum Thursday at the Franklin Fire Hall. 

The opioid crisis is now directly or indirectly affecting one in four Pennsylvanians. 

The drugs come from doctors and the street, but two out of three opioid deaths are caused by prescription pills.

“When it comes to the drugs, you know there’s two sides to it. There’s the users and then there’s the people who sell the stuff. We go after both sides,” said Jerry Mitchell of the attorney general’s office.

Experts agree they can’t arrest or legislate the opioid problem away. There are efforts to make an impact, including two bills currently making their way through the state Capitol.

Both House Bill 353 and Senate Bill 299, sponsored by Alloway, look to prevent prescription fraud. Opioids, often prescribed for chronic pain, are defined as controlled substances and by law must be prescribed by hand on paper. That would change. 

“Strong support from the doctors, strong support from the pharmacists, to make all these opioid prescriptions be done electronically. That way, there’s an absolute record, tracking of who prescribed it, where it went, and who picked it up,” Alloway said. 

The state attorney general’s office said theft and forgery of doctors’ written prescriptions is one of the top ways opioids are illegally obtained.

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