|Opioid deaths in the U.S. (Washington Post chart)|
Eleven national health experts wrote a private letter to high-ranking Obama administration officials in May 2016, begging them to declare fentanyl a national public health emergency. That would have given the administration more funding, resources and flexibility in targeting the problem, but it didn't act, Scott Higham, Sari Horwitz and Katie Zezima report for The Washington Post.
"The decision was one in a series of missed opportunities, oversights and half-measures by federal officials who failed to grasp how quickly fentanyl was creating another — and far more fatal — wave of the opioid epidemic," the Post reports. "Fentanyl has played a key role in reducing the overall life expectancy for Americans. If current trends continue, the annual death toll from fentanyl will soon approach those from guns or traffic accidents."