Pennsylvania auditor releases report on fentanyl epidemic

Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Pennsylvania’s auditor general has released a special report that says the fentanyl epidemic is costing Pennsylvania taxpayers billions.

​The report entitled “A Deadly Dose: Fentanyl’s Impact on Pennsylvania,” found that Pennsylvania taxpayers paid at least $178 million for opioid-related hospital stays in 2017.​​

The report also found that fentanyl contributed to a 65% increase in overdose deaths between 2015 and 2017 and was among the top three deadliest drugs in nearly every Pennsylvania county that tracked data in 2017.​​

Fentanyl is a drug that can be 50 times more powerful than heroin and can be found in street drugs like heroin and cocaine, often unknown to the user. A dosage as small as a grain of sand is enough to kill a person.

​​”Too many people are dying. Too many families are being shattered,” Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said, “and the cost to taxpayers and our economy is staggering.”​​

Opioid treatment and deaths cost the United States roughly $500 billion per year in health care and treatment costs. Pennsylvania’s share is roughly $25 billion per year, or nearly $2,000 per person.

​​The report outlined a number of recommendations by the auditor general, including providing incentives for the Chinese government to block exports of fentanyl, continued funding of naloxone distribution, and legalizing fentanyl test strips that can help users determine if fentanyl is present in a substance but is considered drug paraphernalia.​

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