August 30, 2018 – Overdose Death
Anchor lead: New CDC data estimate many more opioid deaths than previously thought, Elizabeth Tracey reports
72,000. That’s the number of deaths related to drug overdoses in the United States in 2017, the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state. That represents a 10% increase from the previous year, and outpaces deaths from the flu and pneumonia, two big infectious disease killers. Eric Strain, a drug abuse expert at Johns Hopkins, offers his perspective.
Strain: What we’re seeing is the repercussions of the increased availability of fentanyl through illicit means. And so there’s been actually three waves of overdose deaths that we’ve seen over the last fifteen or so years in the United States. The first wave was related to prescription opioids, the second was due to heroin, and now the third is due to fentanyl. And what’s really remarkable is how dramatic that increase has been with fentanyl overdose deaths. :26
Strain says strategies like providing inexpensive test strips to those who use drugs so they can test for the presence of fentanyl may help in the short term, but must be part of a comprehensive public health education strategy. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.