2021 BQ Journal Vol 42 - 41

Overdose Deaths Accelerating During COVID-19
Expanded Prevention Efforts Needed
Press Release
Embargoed Until: Thursday, December 17, 2020
Contact: Media Relations
(404) 639-3286
Over 81,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States in the 12 months ending in May 2020, the highest
number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period, according to recent provisional data from the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
While overdose deaths were already increasing in the months preceding the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
pandemic, the latest numbers suggest an acceleration of overdose deaths during the pandemic.
" The disruption to daily life due to the COVID-19 pandemic has hit those with substance use disorder hard, " said CDC
Director Robert Redfield, M.D. " As we continue the fight to end this pandemic, it's important to not lose sight of different
groups being affected in other ways. We need to take care of people suffering from unintended consequences. "
Synthetic opioids (primarily illicitly manufactured fentanyl) appear to be the primary driver of the increases in overdose
deaths, increasing 38.4 percent from the 12-month period leading up to June 2019 compared with the 12-month period
leading up to May 2020. During this time period:
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37 of the 38 U.S. jurisdictions with available synthetic opioid data reported increases in synthetic opioid-involved
overdose deaths.
18 of these jurisdictions reported increases greater than 50 percent.
10 western states reported over a 98 percent increase in synthetic opioid-involved deaths.

Overdose deaths involving cocaine also increased by 26.5 percent. Based upon earlier research, these deaths are likely
linked to co-use or contamination of cocaine with illicitly manufactured fentanyl or heroin. Overdose deaths involving
psychostimulants, such as methamphetamine, increased by 34.8 percent. The number of deaths involving
psychostimulants now exceeds the number of cocaine-involved deaths.
" The increase in overdose deaths is concerning. " said Deb Houry, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC's National Center for Injury
Prevention and Control. " CDC's Injury Center continues to help and support communities responding to the evolving
overdose crisis. Our priority is to do everything we can to equip people on the ground to save lives in their communities. "
CDC recommendations
The increase in overdose deaths highlights the need for essential services to remain accessible for people most at risk of
overdose and the need to expand prevention and response activities. CDC issued a health advisory today to medical and
public health professionals, first responders, harm reduction organizations, and other community partners recommending
the following actions as appropriate based on local needs and characteristics:
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Expand distribution and use of naloxone and overdose prevention education.
Expand awareness about and access to and availability of treatment for substance use disorders.

Diagnostics I Pharmaceuticals I DxRx Solutions I Continuing Education I News
41

A Henry Schein Publication



2021 BQ Journal Vol 42

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of 2021 BQ Journal Vol 42

Table of Contents
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