Officials say overdose related deaths have fallen across Western Pennsylvania

By Amanda Klein | March 9, 2019

According to federal authorities overdose deaths in Western Pennsylvania sharply declined last year, but officials vow to continue working to reduce the number of drug-related deaths in the region.

According to data released Friday by U.S. Attorney Scott Brady, overdose deaths are down by 47 percent in Allegheny County between 2017 and 2018, and declined by 50 percent in Beaver and Butler counties. Overdose deaths fell by 44 percent in Washington County and 37 percent in Westmoreland County.

Brady said that aggressive measures in reducing the amount of drugs available have led to the significant reduction in drug-related deaths.

Federal and local law enforcement authorities have been more aggressive in targeting dealers and more federal prosecutors have been hired to go after medical professionals who illegally prescribe opioids.

State police Troop B Capt. Joseph Ruggery said troopers have taken $66 million worth of drugs off Pennsylvania highways in the past year, including nearly 50 pounds of fentanyl in the last three months of 2018.

Brady added that physicians and health care providers are doing a better job of decreasing the amount of narcotics they prescribe.

“On the demand side, our health care and treatment community are doing amazing work,” he said. “EMTs and first responders have saved thousands of lives.”

Bob Jones, special agent in charge of the Pittsburgh FBI office said the lives lost across the region “are far too many.” He added “The FBI is committed to reducing that number, month by month, county by county.”

Amanda Klein can be contacted at

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