PA Attorney General meets with Lawrence Co. officials about hero - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

PA Attorney General meets with Lawrence Co. officials about heroin/opioid crisis

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Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -

Just like Ohio, the state of Pennsylvania is fighting an uphill battle when it comes to heroin and the opioid crisis.

Pennsylvania's Attorney General Josh Shapiro was in New Castle for a round table discussion with Lawrence County leaders.

His goal was to find out what local communities are up against when it comes to this drug crisis.

Attorney General Shapiro says, "There's been a lot of communities forgotten in this epidemic and Lawrence County is not going to be one of them.  We're going to stand with them."

78% of the overdose deaths in Lawrence County this year are Fentanyl related according to the coroner.  

A large percentage of those overdoses are also combined with cocaine or heroin.

Drug deaths are up in Lawrence County, and it's estimated 13 people die a day statewide.

But that number could be even higher because unlike Lawrence County, some other Pennsylvania Coroner are not keeping the best records according to the Attorney General.

Because for example the attorney general says one coroner from around the state recorded that a man died from a marijuana overdose, something that's not possible.  The attorney general says that man actually died from an overdose of marijuana laced with fentanyl.

Shapiro who has only been in office since January is also among the state leaders sueing the pharmaceutical companies.

That's because four out of five heroin users became addicted after receiving a legal prescription of Oxycontin or another form of opioid from their doctor or dentist.
  
The Chairman of the Lawrence County Commissioners Dan Vogler says this drug epidemic is costing taxpayers because new jobs have had to be created to deal with the problem that has plagued the county.

"It's placed a burden on our taxpayers quite frankly.  The district attorney's staff has expanded for purposes of enforcement.  If I'm not mistaken we've had to earmark additional dollars towards the adult probation department.  The coroner's office has had to undertake additional autopsies and there's an expense for that," Vogler said.

Each additional autopsy comes at a cost of $1,800 to $3,000 according to the coroner.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General Shapiro says since taking office there has been a 50-percent increase in the number of drug diversion arrests.  That's where a doctor or a nurse or someone like that diverts a legal prescription drug for illegal use.

There have also been 1,399 drug dealers arrested since January representing 4 drug dealers taken off the streets every day.

Attorney General Shapiro says he has listened to the leaders of Lawrence County and feels their major concerns also include more resources for law enforcement, more help for the coroner and more treatment availability.

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