Fentanyl now killing more people than prescription opioids, report says

June 2nd, 2022
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Synthetic opioids such as fentanyl have overtaken prescription opioids as the No. 1 killer in the opioid epidemic, according to a new report.

The report, published Tuesday in the journal JAMA, calculated the number and percentage of synthetic opioid-related overdose deaths in the United States between 2010 and 2016 using death certificates from the National Vital Statistics System. The researchers found that about 46% of the 42,249 opioid-related overdose deaths in 2016 involved synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, while 40% involved prescription drugs.
That’s more than a three-fold increase in the presence of synthetic opioids from 2010, when synthetic drugs were involved in approximately 14% of opioid-overdose deaths.
“It’s certainly concerning. I think that it tracks very closely with the increased availability of illicit synthetic opioids that are coming into the US,” said Christopher Jones, director of the National Mental Health and Substance Use Policy Laboratory at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and a lead author of the report.
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