PA sees drop in overdose deaths 1 year after launch of police info network

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania may finally be gaining the upper hand in the battle against opioids. Officials say a tool introduced one year ago to fight the problem is proving to be effective.

It has now been one year since the Pennsylvania Overdose Information Network was launched in the Commonwealth and so far, officials say it’s working.

After years of struggle, on Thursday at the Opioid Command Center at PEMA headquarters, finally some good news on the opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania.

“We have begun to turn the tide,” Gov. Tom Wolf said.

Last March, officials launched the Overdose Information Network, or ODIN, in Pennsylvania. It’s a database that tracks overdose information from location, to the drug used, to the demographics of patients to when the overdose reversal drug naloxone was used.

“Police cannot arrest their way out of the opioid epidemic,” said Lt. Col. Robert Evanchick, with the Pennsylvania State Police. “Facilitating and sharing of real-time, crucial information makes us capable of so much more.”

One year after the launch, ODIN is used by more than 1,300 agencies, including a thousand municipal police departments in all of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.

“By bringing together data, law enforcement officials have been able to make better decisions about how to target heroin and fentanyl distributors,” Wolf said.

He said it’s working. Preliminary numbers from the Center for Disease Control show Pennsylvania saw a decrease in overdose deaths from 2017 to 2018.

“But we are not going to stop in any way. We’re going to stay laser-focused on the opioid crisis to continue to save lives,” said Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine.

While the network is being used in more than a thousand municipal police departments across Pennsylvania right now, officials say they are working to get more departments on board in the future.

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