72K Americans died from opioid overdoses in 2017, CDC estimates

Lynette PayneAug 20, 2018

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates a record number of people died from drug overdoses in 2017. That represents an increase of more than 6,000 deaths, or 9.5 percent, over the estimate for the previous 12-month period. Because it's cheap and relatively easy to make, it's often mixed with other drugs like heroin and cocaine. Those areas did see a drop in overdose deaths over the course of the year, and that trend has continued into 2018.

The authors of the report say the 2017 numbers may be an underestimate because states' investigations into some overdose deaths may not be complete.

Another synthetic drug, U-47700 (about 7.5 times more potent than morphine) was detected in 123 opioid overdose deaths in 10 states participating in the State Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System (SUDORS), administered by the CDC.

When describing deaths involving specific drugs, "a single death might be included in more than one category", Rossen and lead author Farida B. Ahmad, of the Division of Vital Statistics at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, noted in the report. From 2002 to 2017, the CDC estimates a 4.1-fold increase in the total number of deaths due to all types of opioid drugs. 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.

That represents a rise of 6.6 percent nationwide from 2016 and a death toll higher than any other cause of non-disease death in the US, including HIV, homicides, or vehicle crashes.

Almost 30,000 overdose deaths were related to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids in 2017, which is 22 times the number of deaths due to these drugs in 2002, the CDC finds.

This figure marks a 10 percent increase from 2016. Now, deaths are more widespread and the toll differs by state.

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

Fentanyl and analogs, like carfentanil - 100 times more powerful than fentanyl - are increasingly showing up in death notices around the country. 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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