Fentanyl Passes Heroin as Leading Cause of U.S. Drug Deaths

Drug overdoses killed roughly 64,000 people in the United States last year, according to the first governmental account of nationwide drug deaths to cover all of 2016. It’s a staggering rise of more than 22 percent over the 52,404 drug deaths recorded the previous year — and even higher than The New York Times’s estimate in June, which was based on earlier preliminary data.

Drug overdoses are expected to remain the leading cause of death for Americans under 50, as synthetic opioids — primarily fentanyl and its analogues — continue to push the death count higher. Drug deaths involving fentanyl more than doubled from 2015 to 2016, accompanied by an upturn in deaths involving cocaine and methamphetamine. Together they add up to an epidemic of drug overdoses that is killing people at a faster rate than the H.I.V. epidemic at its peak…

The explosion in fentanyl deaths and the persistence of widespread opioid addiction have swamped local and state resources. Communities say their budgets are being strained by the additional needs — for increased police and medical care, for widespread naloxone distribution and for a stronger foster care system that can handle the swelling number of neglected or orphaned children.

It’s an epidemic hitting different parts of the country in different ways. People are accustomed to thinking of the opioid crisis as a rural white problem, with accounts of Appalachian despair and the plight of New England heroin addicts. But fentanyls are changing the equation: The death rate in Maryland last year outpaced that in both Kentucky and Maine.

Monthly provisional reporting looks like things are only getting worse. Too bad it doesn’t get through to a government more concerned with crushing expanded healthcare for Americans.

2 thoughts on “Fentanyl Passes Heroin as Leading Cause of U.S. Drug Deaths

  1. Cost–benefit says:

    “California to Drug Users: We’ll Pay for You to Test Your Dope : California is taking preventative measures to stop drug users from overdosing on fentanyl, a deadly and high potent synthetic opioid.” https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/articles/2018-02-07/california-to-drug-users-well-pay-for-you-to-test-your-dope “In Ohio, nearly 2,500 died from fentanyl and related opioids in 2016, double the number of the year before. …some experts urge caution in using test strips, noting the strategy is still experimental. Sold for a dollar apiece by BTNX Inc., a Canadian company, .they are designed to test urine and have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use on drug samples, a BTNX spokesman said.

  2. Chessman says:

    “Nevada to become first state to execute inmate with fentanyl” (Guardian UK) https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jul/10/nevada-fentanyl-execution-opioid-crisis-drug-death-row “The state intends to use a synthetic opioid – involved in more than 20,000 overdose deaths in 2016 alone – to kill Scott Dozier, a double murderer, after finding it difficult to obtain other drugs for Nevada’s first execution in 12 years because of opposition from pharmaceutical manufacturers.
    But questions have been raised about whether Nevada’s department of corrections broke the law to obtain the fentanyl, and whether the multibillion dollar distribution company that provided the drug ignored evidence it was to be used in an execution.
    …The drugs were ordered from one of the US’s largest pharmaceutical distribution companies, Cardinal Health, which is among wholesalers facing a barrage of lawsuits accusing them of profiteering from the opioid epidemic by delivering vast quantities of prescription painkillers to small pharmacies and ignoring evidence they were being used by people addicted to the drugs.”

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