By Ralph Iannotti

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NEW CASTLE (KDKA) – The state attorney general was in western Pennsylvania on Wednesday to discuss the opioid epidemic gripping the region and state with local leaders.

Every day there are more reports of drug overdose deaths linked to the opioid epidemic. The heartbreaking statistics show 4,600 people died last year in Pennsylvania. That’s 13 people a day.

“If you look at the top 18 counties for the percentage increase in overdose deaths,” says Pennsylvania State Attorney General Josh Shapiro, “all 18 of them are rural counties.”

That’s why the state attorney general headed to Lawrence County today, meeting with local officials for a round table discussion.

“I think it’s important for leaders to listen and learn, and to take what I see here in Lawrence County back to Harrisburg with me and make sure that is reflective of the real needs,” said Shapiro

Shapiro says he has worked closely with police departments, taking 1,399 dealers off city streets since he took office.

“I think we are fooling ourselves if we think we can just arrest our way out of this crisis,” said Shapiro.

He says the heart of the problem tracks back to pharmaceutical companies.

“We are one of the lead states in a 41-state investigation for their role in this epidemic,” he said.

Shapiro says he is pleased with the work he’s done in Lawrence County and hopes to make greater strides to stop the opioid epidemic.

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