Opioids contributed to a record number of overdose deaths during the last 12 months according to new federal estimates.
Data released on Nov. 17 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that since April of 2020 and April of 2021, there were an estimated 100,306 overdose deaths. The figure indicates a 29% increase in one year. Approximately 75% of deaths were related to opioid use — a 35% increase in prevalence compared to the previous 12-month period.
This marks the first time in U.S. history that overdose deaths have have surged past 100,000 during a one-year period.
Robert Anderson, chief of mortality statistics for the CDC’s National Center for Health and Statistics, said the finding shows a “staggering increase for one year.”
According to U.S. News & World Report:
“The new figures reflect a substantial uptick in overdose deaths that began ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, but that officials feared was accelerated by the worldwide health crisis. In the 12-month period ending in January 2020, for example, CDC data shows approximately 72,750 estimated drug overdose deaths had occurred. By May 2020, the estimated number of such deaths in the past 12 months had topped 81,000; they were up by more than 30% to over 99,000 in March of 2021 compared with the same period the year before.”
Opioids include heroin, fentanyl and some prescription painkillers.
Several class-action lawsuits are pending across the country after what has been called the opioid epidemic.
“According to many court claims, even apparently irreproachable doctors, pharmacists, and drug wholesalers are instead on the payroll of the most mischievous Big Pharma, who paid them kickbacks and lavish gifts to inappropriately prescribe these drugs,” notes DrugWatcher. “Despite their huge potential for abuse and unfavorable risk vs benefits profile, narcotic pain killers are frequently misused and overprescribed.”
An Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled last week that pharmaceutical companies ruled Johnson & Johnson and Janssen Pharmaceuticals involvement in the opioid crisis did not meet the state’s definition of public nuisance.
In July, Johnson & Johnson and three other drug distributors — Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen and McKesson — agreed to a $26 billion settlement for their role in the opioid crisis in several states, including Pennsylvania and Tennessee.
The CDC’s data indicated that several rural states were particularly impacted. Overdose deaths increased in Vermont by nearly 70% and more than 50% in West Virginia, Kentucky and Louisiana.