CDC: Overall opioid-involved drug overdose deaths decline
From 2017 to 2018, the rate of all drug overdose deaths decreased 4.1%, prescription opioid-involved overdose deaths decreased 13.5% and heroin deaths dropped 4%, according to the CDC. However, agency also reported that deaths involving synthetic opioids, excluding methadone, increased by 10% during that same period.
The findings are based on data from the National Vital Statistics System.
Nana Wilson, PhD, from the Division of Overdose Prevention in the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the CDC, and colleagues linked the decrease in prescription opioid-involved deaths to an increase in efforts to reduce high-dose opioid prescribing. They associated the increase in synthetic opioid-involved deaths to an uptick in illicitly manufactured fentanyl or fentanyl analogs in the illegal drug supply.
Researchers attributed the drop in heroin-related deaths to:
- fewer individuals starting to use heroin;
- markets changing from heroin-based to fentanyl-based; and
- increases in naloxone access and treatment provisions for individuals using heroin.
In a press release, CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, MD, credited public health efforts for the recent progress, but he added that the agency is not complacent.
“While we continue work to improve those outcomes, we are also addressing the increase in overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids. We must bring this epidemic to an end,” he said.
The CDC reported in January that fewer deaths from unintentional injuries, mostly drug overdoses, was one of the reasons that American life expectancy increased in 2018 for the first time in 4 years. – by Janel Miller
Disclosures: The authors and Redfield report no relevant financial disclosures.