CDC director says 'urgent action is needed' : 13 data points on the opioid epidemic

New data from the CDC show drug overdose deaths, including opioid overdose deaths, continue to rise.

Here are 13 data points from the CDC.

1. Last year more than 52,000 people died from a drug overdose; of those, 33,091 (63.1 percent) involved a prescription or illicit opioid.

2. Since 2000, more than 300,000 Americans have died from an opioid overdose.

3. The CDC said its new data suggests the increase in opioid overdose death rates is driven in large part by illicit opioids, such as heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl, a synthetic opioid.

4. The new CDC data show that from 2014 to 2015, death rates for synthetic opioids other than methadone (including drugs such as tramadol and fentanyl, referred to as synthetic opioids) increased 72.2 percent.

5. During that same time period, heroin death rates increased 20.6 percent, and synthetic opioid and heroin death rates increased across all age groups 15 and older, in both sexes and among all races/ethnicities, according to the data. For 2015, heroin overdose deaths narrowly surpassed gun homicides as the more prolific killer.

6. Also from 2014 to 2015, methadone death rates declined 9.1 percent.

7. Natural opioids (including morphine and codeine) and semi-synthetic opioids (including commonly prescribed pain medications such as oxycodone and hydrocodone) were involved in more than 12,700 deaths last year.

8. During 2014 to 2015, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Virginia had decreases in rates of death involving natural and semi-synthetic opioids.

9. During 2010 to 2015, the rate of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. increased in 30 states and Washington, D.C., remained stable in 19 states and showed decreasing trends followed by increases in two states.

10. Sixteen states had increases in synthetic opioid death rates from 2014 to 2015. The greatest percent increases in death rates were in New York (135.7 percent), Connecticut (125.9 percent) and Illinois (120 percent).

11. In contrast, when assessing for total number of new lives lost, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island and West Virginia had the largest rate increases of synthetic opioid deaths from 2014 to 2015.

12. Eleven states had increases in heroin death rates from 2014 to 2015, with the greatest percent increases in death rates in South Carolina (57.1 percent), North Carolina (46.4 percent), and Tennessee (43.5 percent).

13. In contrast, when assessing the loss of life pertain to heroin by absolute rate changes, or the total number of new lives lost, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Ohio and West Virginia saw the largest increases of heroin deaths from 2014 to 2015.

"Too many Americans are feeling the devastation of the opioid crisis either from misuse of prescription opioids or use of illicit opioids," CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, said in a prepared statement. "Urgent action is needed to help healthcare providers treat pain safely and treat opioid use disorder effectively, support law enforcement strategies to reduce the availability of illicit opiates, and support states to develop and implement programs that can save lives."


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