fentanyl

Mark Lennihan / AP

In 2017, 5,614 people in Pennsylvania died from a drug overdose. County coroner and medical examiner reports show that fentanyl, a synethic opioid, was present in 64.8 percent of these fatalities. 

Many of these deaths were accidential as people often ingest or inject fentanyl without knowing it.

Michael Sahaida / Wikipedia

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is gearing up for summer programming set to include music from John William’s films, the Rolling Stones and the U.S. premiere of “Thorgy and the Thorchestra” – a collaboration with "RuPaul’s Drag Race" star Thorgy Thor. 

Keith Srakocic / AP

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration warned in 2016 that people became sick from fentanyl through skin contact or inhalation, but the American College of Medical Toxicology and the American Academy of Clinical Toxicology released a joint statement in 2017 that said the chances of becoming ill this way are “extremely low." 

Rick Bowmer / AP

Authorities say a Pennsylvania mother who admitted to letting her sons store fentanyl at her house has been sentenced to 300 hours of community service.

Federal prosecutors said Thursday that 60-year-old Dorothy McCracken was sentenced to 36 months of federal probation for conspiring to distribute fentanyl.

Federal Prosecutors To Focus On Synthetic Opioids In PA, Seven Other States

Jul 13, 2018
Robert F. Bukaty / AP

Federal prosecutors in Pennsylvania and seven other states with high drug overdose death rates will pursue even seemingly small synthetic opioid cases under a program announced  by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

PA Prosecutors Focus On Charging Dealers Who Sell Fatal Doses Of Heroin

Jun 1, 2018

Midstate counties are charging more drug dealers who sell a fatal dose with a crime known as 'drug delivery resulting in death.'

Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts data shows York County tops the list, with 10 percent of the cases statewide.

Lancaster, Dauphin, Cumberland, Franklin, and Lebanon also rank among the top 10 counties.

Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said some counties, including his, view the stricter interpretation of the state law as one more way to combat the opioid crisis.

Cliff Owen / AP Photo

Testing stamp bags seized by law enforcement can give almost real-time insight into what drugs are circulating in the community before a public health emergency hits.

Philadelphia Wants Safe Injection Sites To Help Opioid Fight

Jan 24, 2018
Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Philadelphia wants to become the first U.S. city to allow supervised drug injection sites as a way to combat the opioid epidemic, officials announced Tuesday, saying they are seeking outside operators to establish one or more in the city.

Matt Rourke / AP

A commission created by President Donald Trump asked him to declare a state of emergency over the nation’s opioid epidemic. Earlier this week, he declined. On Thursday, according to a White House pool report, he changed his mind.

The declaration would free the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to grant additional funding for resources, address leadership shortfalls and make changes to Medicaid coverage.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

For the first time since Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro took office in January, his office has filed charges of drug delivery resulting in death against an Allegheny County resident.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Eighteen members of a SWAT team are OK after they were exposed to a deadly chemical during a raid early Wednesday, Pittsburgh police said.

As the SWAT team entered the West End home, a table covered with powered drugs was overturned, sending what authorities believed to be a dangerous synthetic opioid called fentanyl wafting into the air, according to a criminal complaint.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

Placing much of the blame on smoking, a study chronicling the ongoing health crisis in Appalachia has concluded that the 13-state region suffers from a growing disparity in infant mortality and life expectancy, two key indicators of "a nation's health and well-being."

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

A soccer player, an athlete and a drug dealer sat together in a half-circle in the center of the stage. Each character slumped in their chair, reflective and resigned, as they explained how their prescription drug addiction began.

In the audience were 9-12th grade students at Cornell High School. The district was chosen to participate in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s national 360 Strategy, being piloted for the first time in the Pittsburgh region.

Cliff Owen / AP

Fentanyl deaths outranked those attributed to heroin last year for the first time in Allegheny County, according to data released Thursday by the medical examiner's office.

Coroners and medical examiners in all but one of the 10-county region reported spikes in drug overdose deaths from 2015 to 2016 -- up 44 percent in Allegheny County and 38 percent in Westmoreland County.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County is on track to see a record number of fatal drug overdoses involving fentanyl in 2016. According to the Medical Examiner’s office, 114 overdose victims have been found to have the highly potent opioid in their systems, just eight shy of last year’s all-time record.

The prevalence of fentanyl among overdose victims has skyrocketed over the last three years. In all of 2013, just eight fatal overdoses involved fentanyl.