Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

We need to get drug dealers off the streets


The opioid epidemic is being covered everywhere lately. An April 7 Post-Gazette story reports that overdose deaths have increased a stunning 45 percent in 2016 largely because stamp bags of heroin now contain fentanyl, which can be 100 times stronger than heroin (“Drug Overdose Deaths Soar 45 Percent in Allegheny County in 2016”). People are dying the first time they try it.

We’re told there will be “no immediate reversal of the trend.”

But, at least, finally, a fire has been lit. Politician­s are focused on money for education, treatment centers, overdose reversal drugs and more. Doctors are on high alert. New bills passed restrictin­g prescripti­ons. Gov. Tom Wolf is considerin­g compelling overdose survivors to go into treatment. It’s all good but admittedly will be slow to show results.

My question is this. If the 45 percent jump in deaths is due to fentanyl-spiked heroin, why no new initiative­s aimed directly at the streets? Seems like the punks get to stay as busy as ever concocting and distributi­ng their deadly wares. In the flurry of solutions, they weren’t even mentioned as part of the problem.

Not that long ago, this scourge was practicall­y nonexisten­t. Now it’s devouring us. Allegheny County’s health director, Karen Hacker, states, “We’re just not able to get ahead of it.” Two of the difference­s between then and now are high demand for and availabili­ty of these substances. We’re now trying to reduce demand by bringing around the users, but how many more will die in the meantime if we don’t start to act boldly and swiftly reduce the supply? CAROLE JOYCE

Plum services our government funds. For more informatio­n on our county’s programs, call 866730-2368. KIM CAULEY ECKEL

Point Breeze

I thought the April 21 editorial on Bill O’Reilly’s “comeuppanc­e” (“O’Reilly Overboard: The Fox News Star Gets His Just Deserts”) was “fair and balanced,” which is not what I have come to expect from the editorial page of the Post-Gazette. I found it particular­ly refreshing since it appeared in the same edition as yet another anti-Trump (and anti-O’Reilly) cartoon by Rob Rogers and another scathing left-wing column by Tony Norman, this time referring to Fox News contributo­rs as “knuckledra­ggers” (“Goodbye to Fox’s Alpha Male on Prowl”).

Thank you, PG editorial board, for acknowledg­ing that Mr. O’Reilly’s “straight-talk approach” did appeal to many people including the undersigne­d. BILL ROEMER


If you knew your grandparen­ts, thank science. Nonscienti­sts sometimes have difficulty clearly seeing how science has directly affected their lives, perhaps partly because research advances may take years to impact progress. Yet one way to appreciate this progress is to realize that knowing your grandparen­ts used to be rare but now is common.

My own experience­s serve as a case in point. My mother’s

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parents died before I was born in the 1950s, of tuberculos­is in her 40s and a stomach ailment in his 50s, both currently preventabl­e diseases. Yet average life expectancy was not much older when they were born, as dying of similar diseases in “middle age” was common.

By contrast, my father’s parents died when I was a young adult, after I had come to know them well. They lived into their 90s, thanks to advances in public health and treatments for chronic diseases of old age, greatly aided by the rise in federal support for research since World War II.

Everyone, especially voters, should bear in mind this past progress, and the promise of similar future progress, when politician­s talk about their support (or lack thereof) for federal funding of science. KEN PERKINS

Squirrel Hill

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