Monday, July 31, 2017

CDC reports spike in fentanyl overdose deaths

The monthly Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says overdose deaths related to synthetic opioids spiked from 3,007 to 9,580 between 2010 and 2015—a 219 percent increase, concentrated mainly in 2013-15. Since prescription rates for legal opioids such as fentanyl, tramadol and Demerol remain much higher than in 1999 but are fairly steady, illegally manufactured fentanyl is likely the biggest culprit for the spike, Wendy Holdren reports for The Register-Herald in Beckley, W.Va. Fentanyl is often mixed with cocaine and heroin and can contribute to overdose deaths from those drugs.

The amount of legally prescribed opioids varies widely by county, but is higher in large towns and small cities. Prescriptions also spike in areas, many of them rural, where there is a larger percentage or residents who are white, uninsured or unemployed, or have diabetes, arthritis or other disabilities.

CDC graphic; click on it to view a larger version
"West Virginia has seen the most dramatic spike of drug deaths related to synthetic opioids followed by Ohio and Maine," reports Kara Lofton of West Virginia Public Broadcasting. "Experts say the data points to the need for closer collaboration between public-health and public-safety groups. They recommend increasing the amount of the overdose antidote naloxone on hand for first responders and expanding naloxone access to people at risk for opioid-related overdose."

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