How Urban Areas Are Responding to the Opioid Crisis

Live webcast: Expert insights on the latest strategies to combat this epidemic

How Urban Areas Are Responding to the Opioid Crisis
State of the City 2018: Philadelphia's Opioid Crisis
125min 33sec

Opioid use disorder is a pervasive problem in the United States. Every day, an estimated 115 Americans die from an opioid overdose, with many local governments on the front lines battling the crisis.

On Friday, April 20, at 8:30 a.m. EDT, The Pew Charitable Trusts hosted a webcast on how cities and other jurisdictions are addressing this serious public health issue. Experts discussed the latest research to prevent and treat substance use disorders, as well as shared strategies undertaken in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Staten Island, New York. The conversation also focused on successes and barriers to progress.

During the event, get insights, statistics, and commentary—and join the conversation—by following #PewTalksOpioids on Twitter with @PewHealth.

Get expert insight from:

Thomas A. Farley, M.D., M.P.H.

Commissioner of health, city of Philadelphia

Thomas Farley is commissioner of health for the city of Philadelphia. From 2009 to 2014, he was commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. In that role, Farley advocated for innovative public health policies, including making the city’s parks and beaches smoke-free, prohibiting discounts on cigarettes, raising the legal sales age for tobacco to 21, capping the portion size of sugary drinks sold in restaurants at 16 ounces, and restricting the burning of air-polluting fuels to heat buildings. He is co-author of Prescription for a Healthy Nation, with RAND senior scientist Deborah Cohen, and author of Saving Gotham: A Billionaire Mayor, Activist Doctors, and the Fight for 8 Million Lives

Michael McMahon

District attorney, Richmond County (Staten Island), New York

Recognizing the significant challenges facing Staten Island as an epicenter of the heroin and opioid crisis, District Attorney Michael McMahon has made the issue a central focus for his office since taking on his role in January 2016. He has coordinated a multifaceted, evidence-based approach to addressing the crisis, including prosecuting dealers, offering supportive services to affected individuals and families, and increasing public awareness through media outreach and educational presentations at the community level. As a result, Staten Island’s opioid-related deaths decreased by 26 percent in 2017. McMahon previously served as the city council member representing Staten Island’s North Shore for eight years before being elected to Congress in 2008.

Cynthia Reilly

Director, Pew’s substance use prevention and treatment initiative

Cynthia Reilly directs Pew’s work on federal and state initiatives to reduce the inappropriate use of prescription opioids while ensuring that patients have access to effective pain management. She also focuses on expanding access to effective treatment for substance use disorders through increased use of medication-assisted treatment. Before joining Pew, she worked on issues related to the safety and quality of medication use for the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists in Bethesda, Maryland. Reilly received her bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from Temple University and her master’s in global health and medical policy from George Mason University.

Evan Behrle

Special adviser for opioid policy, Baltimore City Health Department

In his role as special adviser for opioid policy, Evan Behrle helps to coordinate Baltimore’s three-pronged response to the unprecedented number of people dying from opioid overdoses: saving lives with naloxone, which rapidly reverses the effects of the drugs; expanding access to evidence-based treatment; and de-stigmatizing addiction through outreach and education. In 2015, the city’s health department took the extraordinary step of issuing a blanket prescription for naloxone to all 620,000 residents of Baltimore, which has saved over 800 lives since then. Behrle is a former Rhodes scholar and holds a master’s degree in political philosophy from Oxford University.

Welcome remarks by:

Larry Eichel

Director, Pew’s Philadelphia research initiative

Moderated by:

Maiken Scott

Host of WHYY’s “The Pulse,” a national radio program and podcast exploring the people and places at the heart of health and science

Date: Friday, April 20, 2018
Time: 8:30-10:30 a.m.
Location: Return to this page to view the webcast.