Burns: Cambria hardest-hit by opioid pill dumping, deserves fair restitution

Asks attorney general to keep county’s No. 1 status in mind

EBENSBURG, July 29 – Acting on recently released federal data confirming Cambria County as opioid pill manufacturers’ favorite dumping ground, state Rep. Frank Burns wants state Attorney General Josh Shapiro to make sure the county is also number one with restitution from Big Pharma.

Burns, D-Cambria, today sent Shapiro a letter noting that in the six-year period between 2006 and 2012, nearly 3.1 billion opioid painkiller pills were shipped to Pennsylvania – with Cambria being the most saturated county in Pennsylvania.

“Sadly, and of particular outrage to me, Cambria County received the highest per-capita rate of pills at 61.5 pills per resident annually,” Burns wrote. “Given the depth and magnitude of the prescription abuse here, I hope that you will ensure any restitution obtained from Big Pharma lawsuits flows proportionately to Cambria County.”

Burns, who has long supported holding pharmaceutical companies accountable for overzealous marketing of opioids, urged the state to file such lawsuits two years ago, a move since undertaken by Shapiro.

Burns now wants to make sure that if Pennsylvania succeeds in wresting financial damages from the big pharmaceutical companies, a fair share of the money flows to hard-hit rural areas instead of it all being funneled to big cities.

“As the county with the highest number of pills shipped per capita, we are in the greatest need of financial resources to reverse this trend and combat this life- and family-destroying problem,” Burns wrote, adding, “As your former House colleague, I continue to stand ready to work with your office to achieve our common goal of ending the scourge of opioid prescription abuse.”

For comparison, Burns said while Cambria received 61.5 pills per resident annually, nearby Centre County received 19.4, three times fewer.