The Task Force is charged with developing a comprehensive and coordinated plan to reduce opioid abuse, dependence and overdose in Philadelphia and draft a report of findings and recommendations for action to the Mayor. The 23-member Task Force, co-chaired by Dr. Evans and Dr. Farley, met semi-monthly for two-hour meetings between January 11 and March 22, to produce a final report. The report was released May 19, 2017. Read the report.
The Opioid Task Force is co-chaired by Commissioner Dr. Arthur C. Evans of the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health & Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS), and Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.
The epidemic of abuse, addiction, and overdose from opioids is a national crisis that now claims the lives of more than 28,000 Americans each year. Philadelphia is projected to have 840 drug overdose deaths in 2016, an increase from 2013 and nearly three times the number of homicides in the city. Eighty percent of those overdose deaths will involve opioids, including prescription painkillers, heroin, and fentanyl.
To identify immediate action we can take as a city and to seek long-term solutions that will end this opioid crisis, I have called for the formation of a task force that will work quickly to create an action plan and recommendations to help.
The opioid epidemic has been taking lives, destroying families and undermining the quality of life of Philadelphians across the city. This is a significant social and public health challenge requiring a comprehensive, citywide approach.
The task force will be co-chaired by two City Commissioners, Arthur C. Evans, Jr., Ph.D., Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, and Dr. Thomas Farley, Department of Public Health. It will be comprised of 16 members with representatives from a broad section of stakeholders who are affected by the epidemic including representatives from all relevant city departments and city council; addiction experts, researchers, physicians, business and community groups, persons with lived experience, state and federal government, and law enforcement.
Virtually everyone selected to serve on this task force has been immersed in this issue for a long time, taking aggressive and strategic action to combat it, but our efforts have been too fragmented. Coming together as a single unit will allow us to harness our collective expertise and put us in a stronger position to make an impact in response to an unprecedented epidemic that for multiple years has claimed more lives in Philadelphia than gun violence.
The Task force will work through five subcommittees that will include additional members:
- Data Analysis and Sharing
- Public Education and Prevention Strategies
- Justice System, Law Enforcement, and First Responders
- Service Access, Best Practices, and Treatment Providers
- Overdose Prevention and Harm Reduction
The task force will meet semi-monthly for three months starting January 11. They are charged with developing a comprehensive and coordinated plan to reduce opioid abuse, dependence and overdose in Philadelphia and draft a report of findings and recommendations for action to the Mayor within 90 days of their first meeting.
We ask everyone in the city to consider ways to get involved to help us address this public health crisis.
Mayor Jim Kenney