U.S. drug overdose deaths surge amid fentanyl scourge

Carfentanil is used to sedate large animals like elephants but it's increasingly finding its way to the illegal drug supply and ending up in the hands of people addicted to opioids

CDC: Drug overdoses hit new high in 2017 | TheHill

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates a record number of people died from drug overdoses in 2017.

SC had a 10.3 percent increase. "We have had a massive increase in the amount of drugs that are laced with fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, so I'm not too shocked there was a rise in the data".

Federal health bodies have increased surveillance of drug overdoses and deaths in recent years to better understand the threat before them. The CDC says there were 2,515 confirmed deaths from drug overdose from January 2017 to January 2018, almost 200 more than the previous year.

The CDC's 2017 estimate is not a final count.

The report, "Opioid-related Overdose Deaths in MA by Industry and Occupation, 2011-2015", was created by the DPH's Occupational Health Surveillance Program in collaboration with the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services, Injury Surveillance Program, and Office of Special Analytic Projects, and was funded by the CDC.

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The primary reason for the increase was a continued uptick in deaths involving synthetic opioids, a category that includes the medical painkiller fentanyl. Based on available death certificate data, DPH analyzed 4,302 opioid-related deaths in MA by occupation and industry to understand whether and how work and injuries related to work may have contributed to opioid use disorders.

Overdose deaths related to cocaine increased sharply from between 2014 and 2017, from less than 6,000 to 14,556, respectively. There were 10,684 overdose deaths from these drugs in 2016.

At the other end of the spectrum the plains states had some of the lowest death rates.

The Trump administration has declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency.

"The sharp increase in fentanyl and fentanyl analogs indicates there is abuse of access to this drug class", Ebied said, noting that fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine. But pain patients and pain advocacy groups have lamented that the opioid epidemic being declared a national emergency has made it more hard to obtain the drugs they legitimately need to manage their severe pain, making the issue complicated.

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