Burns: Cambria County must receive fair share of opioid pharma settlement
County among the hardest hit by pill dumping, overdoses
Northwest Delegation July 23, 2021 | 3:24 PM
EBENSBURG, July 23 – With Pennsylvania set to receive a settlement of $1 billion from opioid manufacturers, state Rep. Frank Burns is once again demanding that Cambria County gets its fair share of the money since it was the hardest hit by the opioid epidemic.
According to a 2018 study, between 2006 and 2012, nearly 3.1 billion opioid painkiller pills were shipped to Pennsylvania – with Cambria County being the most saturated county in Pennsylvania. The county received the highest per capita rate of pills at 61.5 pills per resident annually.
Cambria County is also regularly listed in the top five counties in Pennsylvania in per capita overdose deaths.
“We know all too well the damage these pills have done – everyone in our area has been affected in one way or another,” Burns said. “If we’re stuck dealing with the problem, when the settlement comes, we should be getting the bulk of that money to correct the devastation caused by the influx of these pills to our community.”
Burns has long fought for funding in addressing the opioid crisis, and has lobbied Attorney General Josh Shapiro to file lawsuits against pill companies and use the proceeds to provide restitution to counties like Cambria.
“These pharmaceutical companies deceived everyone by downplaying how addictive these drugs actually are and used deceptive marketing tactics to get doctors to prescribe them. Finally these multi-billion-dollar drug makers are being held accountable,” Burns said. “No amount of money can undo the lives we have lost or fix those that their profiteering has destroyed, but by investing this settlement money in the communities hardest hit – including ours – we can save lives, and hopefully bring this crisis under control.
“In Harrisburg I’ve fought like hell to pass laws and policies to hold pill pushers accountable, to fund treatment and other services, and to make sure our dedicated law enforcement professionals have the tools and training they need to confront this crisis,” Burns said. “And now I’ll fight like hell to make sure we get our fair share of this settlement money.”