The U.S. overdose death rate involving fentanyl nearly quadrupled between 2016 and 2021, according to a report published Wednesday.
The big picture: The growing fentanyl crisis has spurred state and federal lawmakers to target the trafficking of the synthetic opioid, expand access to opioid overdose antidote Narcan, and decriminalize fentanyl test strips to use as a prevention tool.
- But the sheer scale of the opioid epidemic and how it’s evolved into one defined by fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills makes addressing the crisis especially difficult.
- Adding to those challenges: the system for coding overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids does not distinguish between specific drugs, making it harder to monitor trends
- The new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, however, parses out data for the five opioid and stimulant drugs — fentanyl, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and oxycodone — that most frequently contribute to overdose deaths. This data could be critical in informing the public health response to an epidemic that kills an average of 100,000 Americans per year.