Fatalities from heroin and black-market synthetic opioids skyrocketed while the nation saw a decline in the number of opioid painkiller prescriptions and the overdose deaths attributed to them, says an American Action Forum study reported by the Washington Post. The research shows that as authorities cracked down on the overprescribing of powerful painkillers, international cartels filled the void with cheap heroin and powerful synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. The number of opioids prescribed nationwide sharply dropped in 2010, as did the death rate from prescription-opioid overdoses. The annual growth rate of deaths involving prescription opioids slowed from 13.4 percent before 2010 to 4.8 percent after that.
This came after authorities went after pill mills and rogue doctors, states started prescription drug monitoring programs and Purdue Pharma released a reformulated version of the painkiller OxyContin that was more difficult to crush and abuse. Deaths involving heroin and fentanyl sharply spiked in subsequent years. The annual growth rate of heroin deaths surged from 4.1 percent before 2010 to 31.2 percent after; the growth rate of death from fentanyl use went from 13.7 percent to 36.5 percent. Illicit opioids are “filling this void of unmet demand,” said Ben Gitis, who wrote the study with Isabel Soto. Gitis said many people became dependent on prescription opioids, and when the narcotics became more difficult to obtain, people turned to whatever alternative they could find. The cartels saw that market and filled it rapidly. “While restrictions on prescription opioids appear to have slowed the growth in overdose fatalities involving those substances, the total number of opioid-involved overdose fatalities has accelerated due to staggering growth in overdose deaths involving heroin and synthetic opioids,” Gitis and Soto wrote.
via The Crime Report http://bit.ly/2ou4xyZ
April 11, 2018 at 07:34AM