Fentanyl linked to more than 50% of opioid overdoses in 10 states

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More than 50 percent of people who died of opioid overdoses in 10 states tested positive for fentanyl in the second half of 2016, according to the CDC's most recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

For the report, researchers analyzed opioid overdose data compiled by 10 states participating in the CDC's State Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System from July through December 2016. Participating states included Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Of the 5,152 opioid overdose deaths that occurred during the study period, 2,903 (56.3 percent) occurred in individuals who tested positive for fentanyl. Coroners or medical examiners directly attributed cause of death to fentanyl — a highly potent substance, about 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin — in 97.1 percent of the 2,903 fentanyl-positive cases. Additionally, 700 of the overall opioid overdose deaths tested positive for analogues of fentanyl. Carfentanil — a synthetic opioid 10,000 times more potent than morphine — was among the analogous substances detected.

"Illicitly manufactured fentanyl is now a major driver of opioid overdose deaths in multiple states, with a variety of fentanyl analogs increasingly involved, if not solely implicated, in these deaths," wrote the authors of the report. "This finding raises concern that in the near future, fentanyl analog overdose deaths might mirror the rapidly rising trajectory of fentanyl overdose deaths that began in 2013 and become a major factor in opioid overdose deaths."

More articles on opioids: 
McKesson sends letter to president's opioid commission urging 2 specific actions 
Ohio county files opioid lawsuit against drugmakers, distributors 
Endo to receive royalties from generic opioid it once called 'unsafe': 7 things to know

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