(Natural News) The number of people killed by the painkiller fentanyl doubled in just a single year, according to a recent report from theFDA and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Fentanyl overdose is believed to be responsible for the accidental death of singer-songwriter Prince in April 2016.
For the first time, the report used a more accurate method for calculating the individual drugs involved in overdose deaths. This method showed that in 2013, at least 1,905 people died from fentanyl overdose, representing six deaths per one million people.
Just one year later, the number killed by the drug was 4,200, or 13 deaths per one million people. That’s more than double the prior year’s numbers.
Individual drugs finally tracked
The new report sought to correct a deficiency in the way that the United States has historically tracked drug-related deaths. Traditionally, coroners and medical examiners place codes on death certificates to indicate what types of drugs were involved. But these codes indicate categories, not individual drugs. Thus, both oxycodone and morphine are noted by the code for “natural and semisynthetic opioid analgesics.”
For the new report, the researchers analyzed the text of death certificates issued between 2010 and 2014, including written comments. This allowed a comparison down to the level of specific drugs.
The researchers found that in 2010 and 2011, oxycodone was the most lethal drug in the United States. From 2012 to 2014, it was overtaken by heroin. Cocaine moved back and forth between second and third place throughout the study period.
Fentanyl was the 9th most common cause of drug-related death in 2013, but the following year — when fentanyl deaths doubled — it leaped up to 5th place.
Fentanyl deaths were not the only ones to dramatically increase. Deaths from heroin increased more than threefold from 3,020 in 2010 to 10,863 in 2014. Heroin was also involved in more than a third of cocaine-related deaths.
The study also revealed that 48 percent of death certificates that mentioned a specific drug mentioned more than one drug: 25 percent mentioned two, 12 percent mentioned three, six percent mentioned four and five percent mentioned five or more.
The researchers found that nearly all deaths related to the anti-anxiety drugs alprazolam or diazepam — 95 percent — involved another drug as well. (Click to Article)