CDC Data Show Surge In Opioid Overdose Deaths

The Washington Post (12/21, Ingraham, 11.19M) reports the opioid epidemic escalated in 2016, “driven by an unprecedented surge in deaths from fentanyl and other synthetic opiates,” according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“More than 42,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses in 2016, a 28 percent increase over 2015,” while “the number of people fatally overdosing on fentanyl and other synthetic opiates more than doubled, from 9,580 in 2015 to 19,413 in 2016.” The Post reports that many experts say political leaders “still aren’t taking the problem seriously, and in many instances are taking steps that will make it worse,” such as with the White House’s proposed budget cuts the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration by $400 million and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.

AP (12/20) quotes Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, calling the growing opioid crisis an “urgent and deadly” epidemic that “clearly has a huge impact on our entire society.” Remarking on the two years of consecutive declines in US life expectancy, Robert Anderson, who oversees the CDC’s death statistics, said that “we could very well see a third year in a row. With no end in sight.”

NPR (12/21, Stein, 2.49M) reports that according to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, “life expectancy in the U.S. fell for the second year in a row in 2016, nudged down again by a surge in fatal opioid overdoses.” NPR says the last time the US life expectancy dropped “was in 1993 because of the AIDS epidemic,” adding that life expectancy “hasn’t fallen two years in a row in the U.S. since the early 1960s.”

USA Today (12/21, Painter, 8.23M) reports that the life expectancy declines “are shockingly out of sync with a larger world in which lives are getting longer and healthier, public health experts said.” Peter Muennig, a professor of health policy and management at Columbia University, said, “The rest of the world is improving. The rest of the world is seeing large declines in mortality and large improvements in life expectancy” in countries despite income levels.