The crisis has been so devastating that it strains comparisons. Nationally, more lives lost in a single year than lost in the entire Vietnam war. The only man-made health problem big enough to cause a decline in life expectancy. In Philadelphia, three overdose deaths for every homicide. An epidemic in which children have lost parents and parents have lost (often multiple) children. A drug crisis mostly hidden in homes but also overflowing onto the streets in the form of strewn syringes, homeless encampments, and men and women nodding off on sidewalks.
By Dr. Thomas Farley
Doctor Steve Alles, director of the Division of Disease Control, said the numbers have been slowly climbing since 2017, and the city took a proactive stance in mid-2018.
“Starting last summer in July, Disease Control at the health department went out to the Kensington neighborhood, working with Prevention Point of Philadelphia, and we, onsite, in the encampments, on the streets, offered hepatitis A and flu vaccines to the homeless and drug-using people,” he said.
By Kim Glovas
According to James Garrow, a spokesman for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, drug deaths in which toxicology reports showed methamphetamine rose between 2015 and 2017, but remained stable in 2018.
“The number is still small,” said Garrow. “Only about six percent of drug deaths in Philadelphia last year were positive for methamphetamine — and most of these were also positive for one or more opioids.”
By Michael Rellahan
- Overdose death rates dropped in all demographic groups, except for those over 55. Deaths in that age group increased by 29 percent between 2017 and 2018. Health officials saw another age-related shift as well: in 2017, people between 35 and 44 were the most likely age group to die of a drug overdose. In 2018, people between 45 and 54 were at “the most dangerous age” for drug overdoses, health department spokesman James Garrow said.
By Aubrey Whelan
Philadelphia has made a tiny bit of progress in combating overdose deaths. The official death toll for last year was 1,116 people, which is 100 less than in 2017.
The city has mounted a three-pronged attack on overdose deaths: getting more of the overdose-reversing drug Naloxone in circulation, getting more people into treatment and getting doctors to prescribe fewer opioids.
By Pat Loeb
he Philadelphia Department of Public Health found that the number of overdose deaths in the city dropped by more than 100 in 2018, marking a decline of 8% over the previous year.
Figures released on Tuesday show that there were 1,116 overdose deaths last year, down from 1,217 in 2017. While modest, the number is encouraging compared to the 34% increase from 907 deaths in 2016 to 2017.
By Michael Tanenbaum
James Garrow, spokesman for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, which oversees the Medical Examiner’s Office, said he cannot release additional information about the investigation into Greenberg’s death. These investigations are protected under privacy laws and all the office is required to release is the name, cause and manner of death, he said.
But he noted, “In this particular case, the medical examiner must have felt there was sufficient evidence to feel that the decedent in this case had the intention of committing suicide.”
He said officials with the Medical Examiner’s Office have spoken with a private investigator for the Greenberg family and said they would reopen Ellen Greenberg’s case if some new evidence is presented to warrant that, but that has not yet happened.
By Steve Marroni
Derer was killed by multiple blunt impact injuries, according to the medical examiner, and the case has now been ruled a homicide.
By Cleve Bryan
Officials at the Philadelphia Health Department are issuing a health alert for medical providers throughout the city regarding the ongoing measles outbreaks happening in other cities.
There are no cases reported here, however, Dr. Kristen Feemster, a communicable diseases expert with the department, says it’s likely there will be one given how much people travel between Philadelphia and cities like New York, Los Angeles, and those overseas where there are active outbreaks.
By Alison Gorman