Pennsylvania Opioid Overdose Reduction Technical Assistance Center (ORTAC)

A statewide program provides community-level support to reduce overdose deaths via coalition building and technical assistance

Coordination among diverse community stakeholders is critical in mounting an effective response to the opioid crisis. Addressing this need, Pennsylvania formed the Opioid Overdose Reduction Technical Assistance Center (ORTAC) to help build county-level coalitions aimed at reducing overdose deaths. Participating stakeholders include treatment providers, first responders, clinicians and hospitals, courts and police departments, schools, faith communities, and peers in recovery. ORTAC hosts county community meetings to build a shared commitment to action, gather and present relevant data, assess capacity, and formulate a strategic plan addressing identified gaps in services. ORTAC helps coalitions to develop and evaluate programs and to seek funds to ensure sustainability. A research study covering the years 2016-2019 concluded that the 29 participating counties in ORTAC showed a 30% reduction in overdoses compared to 19 non-participating counties.

The ORTAC website provides a data portal where users can access county-level overdose death data analyzed by year, demographics, zip code, and type of drug. ORTAC also provides a resource locator to assist in finding treatment beds, naloxone, and drug take back boxes, as well as a resource center that links to trainings, webinars, ORTAC symposia, a faith community collaborative, and a guide to accessing treatment. A slide presentation on ORTAC describes its rationale and the process by which it builds coalitions and sustains effective overdose reduction initiatives. 

By coordinating coalitions, developing strategic plans, and providing technical assistance statewide, ORTAC has had a significant impact in reducing opioid overdose deaths in Pennsylvania.

Continuum of Care
Full continuum of care
Harm Reduction
Type of Evidence
Response Approach
Comprehensive services
Medications for Opioid Use Disorder
Overdose prevention
Peer-reviewed Article

Evidence of Program Effectiveness

"Pre-ORTAC implementation, the average opioid-related overdose death (ODD) rate was 8.92 per 100,000 (SD = 3.62) in ORTAC counties and 5.62 per 100,000 (SD = 2.17) for the 19 comparison counties. Relative to the pre-study rate, there was an estimated 30% decrease in the ODD/100,000 within implementing counties after the first two quarters of ORTAC implementation. In the second year post-ORTAC implementation, the estimated difference between ORTAC and non-ORTAC counties reached a high of 3.80 fewer deaths per 100,000. Overall, analyses indicated that ORTAC’s service was associated with avoiding 1,818 opioid ODD in the 29 implementing counties in the two years following implementation."  Cloutier et al., 2023.