Contribute Try STAT+ Today

NEW YORK — More than 50,000 Americans died from drug overdoses last year, the most ever.

The disastrous tally has been pushed to new heights by soaring abuse of heroin and prescription painkillers, a class of drugs known as opioids.

Unlock this article by subscribing to STAT+ and enjoy your first 30 days free!


What is it?

STAT+ is STAT's premium subscription service for in-depth biotech, pharma, policy, and life science coverage and analysis. Our award-winning team covers news on Wall Street, policy developments in Washington, early science breakthroughs and clinical trial results, and health care disruption in Silicon Valley and beyond.

What's included?

  • Daily reporting and analysis
  • The most comprehensive industry coverage from a powerhouse team of reporters
  • Subscriber-only newsletters
  • Daily newsletters to brief you on the most important industry news of the day
  • STAT+ Conversations
  • Weekly opportunities to engage with our reporters and leading industry experts in live video conversations
  • Exclusive industry events
  • Premium access to subscriber-only networking events around the country
  • The best reporters in the industry
  • The most trusted and well-connected newsroom in the health care industry
  • And much more
  • Exclusive interviews with industry leaders, profiles, and premium tools, like our CRISPR Trackr.
  • It seems to me that the mixture of heroin and fentanyl (illegal drugs) suppplled by china and mexico is the major issue here. How do doctors and pharmacists control the use and abuse of heroin and fentanyl cocktails? Are we looking in the wrong place for solutions?

  • How incredibly sad that so many in the US, have overmedicated their feelings of distress to a lethal point. We understand that the lack of control in our borders and with prescribed narcotics is a major contributor to this tragedy, but another factor that is often forgotten is the lack of emotional health care.

    We need to think why are so many people in such emotional pain and what resources are available for them. We need to remove the stigma placed on drug addiction and mental disorders and replace it with education and effective treatment.

  • These numbers are generalities at best, not necessarily accurate. For example, a large number of deaths are reported as heroin, when, in fact, they were really caused by the fentanyl that was mixed with the heroin. Deaths that occur in a hospital (even after an overdose) often are not reported as an overdose and as such are not included in the reporting. Deaths from ‘prescription’ painkillers: Deaths from street drugs are often reported as death from oxycodone or whatever, when again the death was really a result of other substances, fentanyl, for example, being used to make the fake pills. Further, many fentanyl deaths are called ‘death by prescription pain killers’ when the fentanyl in question was not a pharmaceutical product. Deaths by gun homocide: These numbers often include shootings by police and criminals.

    The plain and simple truth is that numbers provided by the CDC or any other federal agency are just best-guess estimates.

    • The problem with generalization with any opioid death it truly discriminates and leaves too much open to the imagination which ones in a world that desires accuracy in diagnosis and treatment.
      Meaning, if a patient has serious side effects to say STATINS or other prescriptions and the serious side effects create a chronic pain condition that damaged the liver and other major human organs then the patient with the injury has to manage chronic pain, the only go to resolve is an opiod prescription.
      Now we have laws in most states in place where a patient has to arrive at the doctors office to gain a prescription REFILL for a chronic condition for STATINS that use these opioids responsibly as they were already negatively impacted by Big Pharma as no prescription is tested properly or created equal and negatively does more harm than good.
      Let’s take generalization a bit further! I walk into to speak to a patient or let’s say a female. I say you the female have a probable non cancerous Pap smear yet there are 100 different non cancerous cells out there and 10 can turn cancerous. In general. How would that female patient, partner, family, feel about this? Fear? The cloud hanging over the head of this patient of is it going to turn into cancer with the top 10?
      This is the problem I have with healthcare and Big Pharma! It’s medical practice not medical precision based on genome, culture, social, environtmental, behavioral impact.
      Yet, we have patients that are responsible that do the right thing and manage their pain to function vs. dysfunction yet we criminalize everyone using any form of opioids that has a medical necessity to be prescribed them.
      We need specific opiod death cause not general opioid death cause. Which ones?! Let’s use law enforcement, EMS, ER, to provide the correct name, dosage, prescribed amount, count and what if any possible mixtures!
      If I’m paying out of control healthcare cost premiums responsibly, now lawfully, there is no reason any physician can’t send the prescription of any medication over to the pharmacy of choice to provide to the patient in need not want.
      It’s not rocket science.
      Lastly, I’ve seen the deaths in the field, in the ER, in the ICU, and I can tell you the FDA, DEA or law makers are creating healthcare accessibility impossible and avoidant when we are all each genome is different in every human that is addressing this “general” issue.
      War on drugs is not going away like our jobs have that are creating this problem along with cost of living. The Top 1 percent are truly winning and the 99 percent are struggling.

  • I believe the heroin OD’s ate closer to correct but I definitely do not believe the numbers on prescription opioid pills.
    Far too many Chronic pain sufferers now and in the past 7 yrs, are and have been constantly losing their doctors. Patients who required affective medicine that helps to keep them functioning, work a job to feed the family, to pay the mortgage, or especially have ability to access quality of life.
    All this, thanks to the Gov by political abc agencies with Lobby agendas to support rehab centers. I suppose high dollar rehabs weren’t profiting enough. The government CREATED this heroin epidemic by going extremely overboard on pill mill hunts in turn they caused heroin from Mexico to flood the USA. I do not buy the idea that these new drug addicts were patients prescribed legal medicine before turning to illegal drugs. The heroin users of today hadn’t taken pills. They’re only abusing and using heroin because it’s flooded the country. They use what the popular drugs us available at the current time. If Cocaine was flooding the USA, addicts would be using that.
    Moral of this comment is, stop spreading false information, stats and data about opioids. You have no idea what kind of harm gas came to the legitimately disabled, chronic pain disease States in this country. Tens of thousands of patients have been seriously harmed by alphabet soup news and agencies agendas. Stop it NOW! Americans should have a Human RIGHT to have pain care legally.
    Show students in schools videos of what alcohol and drug withdrawal looks like. Majority wouldn’t touch them ever! That’s the only way to stop most people from drug abuse later in life.
    Seeing us believing! There’s too much #fakenews out there Today!

  • Its bad pharmvet . Im also a medic that works part time on a trauma rig . Its everywhere . Thanks for the site .

    • It’s never improved since Nixon “Declared War on Drugs since June 1961. l’ve seen it in the field, by helo, by ER/ICU/Psych. When we all realize there are many layers to all this and look at Portugal in how they dealt with drugs and the dealing/use dropped, then we might “Win.” Until then, grab the narcan, BVM, and support the chronic pain user as every brain, human genome, social class, behavioral, physical make up, environmental exposure (100 cities with contaminated water) and smile. Because it is out of everyone’s control. lol

  • One more thing . Why doesnt anyone care about alcohol related deaths per year ? The CDC has the numbers but say nothing . Get real smart people …

  • As a pain patient for over 20 yrs i can see why the rise in deaths .cant anyone else ? Drs are worried they are on the radar for giving out pain meds therefore cutting people off that need them . If you have never experienced severe chronic pain then keep quite . Heroin and other street drugs are cheaper and no scrutiny . Just like gun laws .the only people affected are those that follow the law . Keep pushing this ,, it will get much worse ….

  • And here we go… Can we please have the number from the CDC in regards to in hospital deaths rate?
    Now, match these death numbers of overdose to jobs / careers lost to other countries? Meaning the the areas of cities, towns, that turned to ghost towns or increase in homeless people and loss of homes.
    Then match the trends.

    • As Ted Kascyzinski stated in his manifesto, you do not cure depression by writing scrips for anti depressents but by eliminating the root cause of depressionn undue stress from loss of. job etc. Now, sith the way the economy has been going since 1974, and a new president elect hellbent on destroying what is left of the middle and lower classes, is there any wonder the younger generations are taking heroin, opiods, etc. Legalise all illegal drugs. Take the huge profit away and then the marketing and supply into the USA, the biggest illegal drug consumer would cease. At least the govt. could do this but to do so would give up all their profitable enterprises associated with illegal drugs. Rehabs, etc. A waste of time for an addict but extremely profitable.

Comments are closed.