The Shapiro Plan To Take on Pennsylvania’s Heroin Crisis

“Overdosing is now the number one accidental killer in our Commonwealth. This scourge attacks every kind of community: urban, suburban and rural. We need a comprehensive, recovery-based approach that treats addiction as a disease, not a crime, paired with a smart-on-crime approach to reducing the availability of heroin and prescription opioids in our communities. Let me be clear: as Attorney General, I’ll be compassionate with those suffering from addiction, but merciless with the drug dealers.”  – Josh Shapiro

Put life-saving medication in the hands of all first responders. The overdose reversal drug naloxone needs to be in the hands of every first responder but right now, only a fraction of first responders carry it because of its high cost. As Attorney General, Shapiro will negotiate directly with drug manufacturers to enable municipalities to purchase overdose-reversal medication at a lower cost.

Crack down on drug traffickers. Cutting off the supply of heroin to the streets will be a top priority of the Office of Attorney General under Shapiro. He will aggressively prosecute high-level drug traffickers to keep them, their drugs, and their violence out of Pennsylvania’s communities. He will continue to work with the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Heroin Task Force, to find new, collaborative ways to leverage our resources to better attack drug traffickers.

Implement the Pennsylvania Drug Market Initiative. As Attorney General, Shapiro will refocus the Office of Attorney General’s Municipal Drug Task Force to implement a research-based initiative to combat the supply-side of the drug problem by closing illegal drug markets. Through the Pennsylvania Drug Market Initiative, the Office of Attorney General will use grant funding to partner with local law enforcement agencies, District Attorneys and community and faith leaders to attack drug markets using the proven “High Point West End Initiative” model. This community-based approach has been proven to reduce crime by removing high-level drug dealers while reforming low-level dealers.

Stop over-prescription of opioids and get rid of unused medications. For too many people, the gateway to heroin addiction isn’t street drugs but doctor-prescribed opioid painkillers. As Attorney General, Shapiro will work with the medical community to reduce over-prescription and direct the Bureau of Narcotics Investigation to analyze the state’s Schedule II controlled substances prescription database to detect deliberate over-prescription. Shapiro will also work with District Attorneys and local law enforcement to set up drop boxes for unused medications across Pennsylvania and will examine drug companies’ marketing practices to ensure they are not pushing these powerful medications for off-label uses.

Enforce drug addiction treatment laws to reduce barriers to treatment. People who suffer from substance use disorder often need significant, long-term treatment, but some insurers have put in place barriers to treatment. As Attorney General, Shapiro will enforce federal and state laws requiring insurers to pay for drug addiction treatment services. He’ll also advocate for changes in state and federal law that will make it easier for people to get the treatment they need.

Reform our criminal justice system to prioritize treatment and recovery. As Attorney General, Shapiro will work to reform our criminal justice system to reduce over-incarceration, get those fighting addiction the help they need and restore fairness to our system. He’ll take a data-driven, smart-on-crime approach and advocate for proven reforms like drug treatment courts in every county and diversion programs.

Direct the AG’s Education and Outreach Unit to focus on educating kids about heroin and opioids. Educating our children about the dangers of opioids is critical. That’s why Shapiro will direct the Office of Attorney General’s Education and Outreach Unit to prioritize opioid education. The unit will develop effective education tools and work with schools to spread the message about the risks of heroin use and opioid abuse.