Drug overdose deaths, fueled by fentanyl, hit record high in US


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Nation records over 100,000 deaths in 12 months for the first time

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US recorded the highest number of drug-overdose deaths in a 12-month period, eclipsing 100,000 for the first time.

There were an estimated 100,306 drug deaths in the 12 months running through April, the latest CDC data show. This represents a nearly 29% increase from the number of deaths recorded in the same period a year ago, indicating that the US is heading for another full-year record following drug deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic. Is.


“It’s telling us that 2021 looks like it will be worse than 2020,” said Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

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Opioid-related deaths, primarily those from the potent drug fentanyl, accounted for nearly three quarters of deaths through April, according to the CDC, which counts provisional drug deaths in the year-long block. These records take months to compile because drug overdoses usually require local mortality investigations and toxicology testing.

Fentanyl has been a major catalyst in an acute US overdose crisis for years. As recently as 2014 the nation was reporting fewer than 50,000 fatal overdoses. In 2020, that number rose to a record of around 93,330.

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According to advocates for drug users and recoverers, the pandemic intensified opioid problems in a number of ways, from increasing isolation between people to complex treatments. The pandemic has also been a major draw on resources and attention for public health officials, who are still trying to manage COVID-19.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, bootleg versions of fentanyl are often made by drug cartels in Mexico with chemicals from China. While fentanyl hit hard several years ago in places like New England, the Appalachian and Midwest states, the drug is now a rapidly growing problem in western parts of the US as well. The DEA recently warned of the proliferation of counterfeit pills containing fentanyl.

Fentanyl-related deaths are on the rise in the Las Vegas area, where the Southern Nevada Health District has recorded 160 deaths with the drug during August of this year. This spurred the region to potentially surpass the 193 fentanyl deaths seen last year, said Brandon Dellis, an epidemiologist with the Health District.

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