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Recent Increase Reported in Drug Overdose Deaths Involving Fentanyl

THURSDAY, March 21, 2019 -- From 2011 to 2016, there was an increase in drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl, according to the March 21 National Vital Statistics Reports, a publication from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Merianne Rose Spencer, M.P.H., from the National Center for Health Statistics in Hyattsville, Maryland, and colleagues identified drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl to describe trends by demographic characteristics and geographic regions from 2011 through 2016.

The researchers found that in 2011 and 2012, the number of drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl was stable (1,663 and 1,615, respectively) and began to increase in 2013, reaching 18,335 deaths in 2016. The age-adjusted rate increased from 0.5 to 5.9 per 100,000 standard population from 2011 to 2016, with the increase starting in 2013 (0.6, 1.3, and 2.6 in 2013, 2014, and 2015, respectively). For all sex, age, and racial and ethnic subgroups and most public health regions, the numbers and rates increased. The trend patterns observed were not changed with adjustment for improved drug reporting.

"The need to understand the factors influencing overdoses and deaths involving fentanyl has resulted in collaboration among public health agencies, medical examiners and coroners, and public safety agencies," the authors write. "These collaborations will contribute to better detection and reporting on death certificates, which in turn, will help improve quality of local, state, and national vital statistics data."

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Posted: March 2019

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