The number of fatal fentanyl overdoses increased between 2016 and 2021, according to a A disturbing new report From the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The report, released on Wednesday, found that 69,943 died of a fentanyl overdose in 2021, a rate of 21.6. This is significantly higher than in 2016, when 18,499 died from a fentanyl overdose, with a rate of 5.7.
According to CNN, The CDC typically “reports overdose data by broader drug classes.”
“Fentanyl, for example, is grouped with other synthetic opioids such as tramadol and nitazine. But for Wednesday’s report, the researchers took a closer look at the specific drugs listed on the death certificates of people who died from overdoses, highlighting demographic differences,” CNN reported.
Caleb Banta Green, a research professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine’s Institute on Drugs and Alcohol, told CNN that identifying the drug that caused the overdose is critical to the researchers.
“We need to know exactly what people are dying from so we know what services they need to survive,” said Banta Green.
The report also found an increase in fatal overdoses from several other drugs.
The drug overdose death rate involving fentanyl more than tripled over the study period, from 5.7 per 100,000 standard population in 2016 to 21.6 in 2021, with an increase of 55.0% from 2019 (11.2) to 2020 (17.4), and a 24.1% increase from 2020 to 2021 (21.6).The rate of drug overdose deaths involving methamphetamine more than quadrupled, from 2.1 in 2016 to 9.6 in 2021, the CDC reported. The death rate from drug overdoses involving cocaine has more than doubled, from 3.5 in 2016 to 7.9 per 100,000 in 2021. The death rate from drug overdoses involving heroin has fallen by 40.8%, from 4.9 in 2016 to 2.9 in 2021, although this decrease was not statistically significant. The death rate from drug overdose involving oxycodone decreased by 21.0%, from 1.9 in 2016 to 1.5 in 2021.”
“In 2021, the age-adjusted drug overdose death rate had the highest rate of deaths involving fentanyl (21.6 per 100,000 standard population), followed by methamphetamine (9.6), Cocaine (7.9), heroin (2.9), oxycodone (1.5). Patterns were similar when stratified by sex,” the report continued.
The CDC said it “analysed verbatim text from data on deaths occurring in the National Vital Statistics System for deaths occurring in the United States among residents of the United States.”
The CDC reports that “from 2016 to 2021, age-corrected drug overdose death rates including fentanyl, methamphetamine, and cocaine increased, while drug overdose death rates involving oxycodone decreased.” In 2021, age-adjusted death rates for males were higher than for females for all of the drugs analyzed. Among those ages 25 to 64, fentanyl had the highest rate of drug overdose deaths. Although a similar pattern was observed among those aged 0-24 years and 65 and older, no significant differences were observed between the rates. Fentanyl was also the most common opioid or stimulant drug implicated in drug overdose deaths for the ethnic and Hispanic groups analysed.
As CNN said,[p]Harmful fentanyl is a synthetic opioid intended to help patients, such as those with cancer, manage severe pain.”
“It is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine and is usually prescribed as patches or lozenges on the skin. But most of the recent cases of fentanyl-related harm, overdose, and death in the United States are linked to illegally manufactured fentanyl, according to the CDC,” C. NN”.