Opioids Crisis

Statewide Analysis


The Pennsylvania Department of Health non-opioid directive allows patients to formally communicate that they do not wish to receive opioid medications as a part of their treatment plan. The non–opioid directive helps prescribers and patients begin a dialogue of substance use history and look at alternative methods of treatment. In addition, the directive may prevent inadvertently offering certain controlled substances to those who could be adversely affected.  

Opioid Overdose Dashboard

The PDMP, in collaboration with the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs and the University of Pittsburgh's Program Evaluation and Research Unit (PERU) has developed continuing educational curriculum for prescribers on best practices for using the PDMP system and on how to address substance use disorder with patients. Visit the PDMP website for Evidence-Based Prescribing: Tools You Can Use to Fight the Opioid Epidemic.
The prescription opioid and heroin overdose epidemic is the worst public health crisis in Pennsylvania.  It affects Pennsylvanians across the state, from big cities to rural communities. The Wolf Administration takes an all-hands-on deck approach to prevent the disease from happening, rescue those suffering and get Pennsylvanians into treatment. 

Overdoses by County

In 2015, Governor Wolf expanded Medicaid, which allowed 44,000 Pennsylvanians with an opioid-use disorder to access treatment.  In 2016, 71,000 Pennsylvanians had access to treatment. The map below shows where people are covered by Medicaid under the expansion. 
Without this expansion, thousands of Pennsylvanians would be suffering without help. Watch one woman's story.

Root Cause Analysis and Recommendations

Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine has signed updated standing order prescriptions for naloxone.  The updated standing orders include the 2mg dose auto injector which has recently become available. You can find a link to the updated standing orders below. Learn more about naloxone.

Opioid Overdose Survival

Naloxone Effectiveness

Pennsylvania is making progress and preliminary data is showing a decline in drug overdose deaths, but there is more work to do. Pennsylvania continues to focus on saving lives, expanding treatment access and getting patients into treatment. The crisis has built over decades, and while it will take time to end this epidemic, there is hope. Pennsylvanians should continue to have hope for our families, for our communities and for patients who need treatment for the disease of addiction.

Risky Prescribing Practices

The data depicted in this map show doses of naloxone and naloxone hydrochloride (depicted as naloxone) administrations by emergency medical services (EMS) providers at the scene of an emergency by county.  The data are derived from EMS patient care reports completed by certified EMS providers in the field.  The data are filtered on the following National EMS Information System (NEMSIS) fields: Provider Primary Impression equaling “Overdose/Poisoning/Ingestion” in which naloxone or naloxone hydrochloride was administered to a patient.  The record is further filtered by incident county.
Risky Prescribing Measures vs Overdoses
Effect of Risky Prescribing on Overdoses
These data are aggregate and cannot be inferred to represent a single dose given to a single patient.  Additionally, the data do not depict patient outcome, nor that the patient receiving naloxone or naloxone hydrochloride was truly experiencing an opioid overdose.

Law Enforcement Opioids Seizures

Newborns with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome were exposed to opioids in the womb, either through prescribed medications or illegal drugs. Identifying these newborns is essential to getting them the help they need to lead successful lives. The map and chart below show how many newborns covered by Medicaid have been born with NAS. (Data reported by home county and not by county of birth.)  The data are not all inclusive and will be updated when more data is available. 
In 2016, 120,000 Pennsylvanians suffering from opioid-use disorder were covered under Medicaid.The centers coordinate care for people with Medicaid. Treatment is team-based and “whole person” focused, with the explicit goal of integrating behavioral health and primary care. 

More than 71,000 were newly eligible for health care coverage through the Medicaid expansion, meaning that for many people, this is the first time they are able to access treatment.