According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 100,000 persons in the United States died of a drug overdose in the first year of the epidemic, a roughly 29% increase from the same period in 2019. Opioids, particularly synthetic opioids like fentanyl, were responsible for the vast majority of those deaths.
“An American dying every five minutes is game-changing,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said at a press conference.
Officials are concerned about the rising overdose crisis as a result of the new data.
In response to the findings, the White House, the Department of Health and Human Services, and other government health officials announced new initiatives aimed at combating the overdose epidemic, including expanding access to naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal drug, allowing federal funds to be used to purchase fentanyl test strips to detect the presence of fentanyl in any drug batch, and increasing funding for addiction prevention efforts.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) earlier warned that the incidence of overdose deaths increased during the epidemic, owing mostly to synthetic opioids like fentanyl. According to the National Institutes of Health, fentanyl is a strong synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.
It can also be made to resemble legitimate prescription medicines and illegally imported and marketed across the United States, adding to the epidemic.
The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Anne Milgram said, “We’ve already collected 12,000 pounds of fentanyl.” “The DEA has seized enough fentanyl this year to administer a deadly dose to every citizen of the United States.”
Public health officials are also concerned about the rising number of overdose deaths.
Dr. Akhil Anand, a psychiatrist at Cleveland Clinic, said, “This disturbing data shows a crisis in the mental health community caused by both the current epidemic and fentanyl’s growth on the illegal drug scene.” “This new data should serve as yet another reminder of the daily overdose deaths, which often occur because people are unaware of what they are consuming. This is a public health emergency, and it’s critical that we keep getting individuals into treatment as soon as possible.”
The National Center for Health Statistics of the CDC has released a new interactive dashboard with a summary of the new data, including a map of the United States showing the increase in deaths.
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