TAUNTON (CBS/AP) — A recent surge in heroin overdoses in Taunton has shed light on an epidemic that has plagued the state and nation.

Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Edward Markey and White House Drug Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske met with local officials, first responders and parents of addicts at the Taunton Central Fire Station on Monday to discuss how to attack the issue.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Kim Tunnicliffe reports

“After cancer and heart disease, this is now the number one killer in the United States of America. So, we have to build an army to fight it,” said Markey.

Participants agreed that treatment and preventative care should be the main focus. Kerlikowske says arresting users will not solve the problem.

Officials reported two heroin overdoses in Taunton on Monday, adding to the more than 60 that had occurred so far this year, including five deaths.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says prescription drug and heroin fatalities in the U.S. surpass homicides and traffic deaths.

“This is a problem that has affected every race, economic area, rural, suburban, urban, etc.,” said Kerlikowske.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)



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