Our Opinion: Wolf encouraged by opioid war progress; time will tell the tale

If such a thing is possible, there is good news on the opioid war front in Pennsylvania.

Gov. Tom Wolf says preliminary statistics are pointing to a decrease in overdose deaths in the state in 2018.

He and his administration are even suggesting the opioid crisis might be starting to wane in some parts of Pennsylvania.

Wolf made the suggestion while participating in a recent training session on how to administer a nasal spray that reverses an opioid overdose.

It is one of many tools that are helping in this war that must be won.

The governor says physicians are issuing fewer opioid prescriptions and doctor-shopping is over because of a 2016 law that requires prescribers to check a state database before issuing an opioid prescription to a new patient.

He says more robust health care outreach and law enforcement programs are paying dividends.

And the administration has made the anti-overdose medication naloxone regularly available at most pharmacies in Pennsylvania, at little or no cost for those with insurance.

There are sobering realities to inject into the governor’s positive thoughts regarding the opioid crisis.

First off, it’s still a crisis and must be viewed that way. The countless families in our region and throughout the state who have lost loved ones to this scourge cannot view it any other way.

We await the actual numbers on overdose deaths in 2018 and real statistics that prove physicians are writing fewer prescriptions that serve as the unnecessary root to opioid addiction.

We also are cynical that doctor-shopping is over because of a law or any epiphany by physicians who are benefitting from the doctor-shopping. A database requirement is only effective if everyone is living by it.

We are grateful for the progress but also mindful of those in our region who have suffered the irreversible agony of this epidemic. Only time and hard numbers will prove if real inroads are being made against it.