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December 19, 2017

Underlying Factors in Drug Overdose Deaths

Author Affiliations
  • 1National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
JAMA. 2017;318(23):2295-2296. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.15971

Drug overdose accounted for 52 404 deaths in the United States in 2015,1 which are more deaths than for AIDS at its peak in 1995. Provisional data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate drug overdose deaths increased again from 2015 to 2016 by more than 20% (from 52 898 deaths in the year ending in January 2016 to 64 070 deaths in the year ending in January 2017).2 Increases are greatest for overdoses related to the category including illicitly manufactured fentanyl (ie, synthetic opioids excluding methadone), which more than doubled, accounting for more than 20 000 overdose deaths in 2016 vs less than 10 000 deaths in 2015. This difference is enough to account for nearly all the increase in drug overdose deaths from 2015 to 2016.2

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