Fentanyl is now America’s deadliest drug, CDC says

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says fentanyl has become the deadliest drug in America.

The authors of the report identified drug overdose deaths by looking at the text on death certificates for the years 2011 to 2016.

While the reported numbers have skyrocketed, the drug is claiming even more victims every year due to underreporting.

By 2016, fentanyl was involved in about 29% of all fatal drug overdoses and had overtaken heroin - which was the most commonly cited drug in the death certificates of people who had died from overdoses from 2012-2015 - as the substance most frequently involved in drug deaths. "It represents an evolution of the opioid crises in which patterns have shifted to a much more potent drug, putting users at a greater risk of overdose and death", he added. More so, it was observed that fentanyl death cases alarmingly soared up to an average of 113 percent in three years, or from 2013 to 2016.

Another 35 of the 61 overdose deaths in the county were blamed on multiple drugs which included Fentanyl or its analogs created to mimic the effects of the drug.

-Opioids such as fentanyl, heroin, hydrocodone, methadone, morphine and oxycodone. Many fatalities also involved multiple drugs, the report says.

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In addition, other forms of fentanyl, such as carfentanil or butyrfentanyl, which are much more potent than fentanyl itself, are also involved in overdose deaths, Kirane said.

Hedegaard and her co-authors used the same death certificates that the CDC typically uses for overdose reports but went deeper in their analysis, scouring the records for drug misspellings, chemical names, brand names and street names recorded by coroners and medical examiners.

Fentanyl killed 18,335 people in the United States in 2016-the most of any drug, making the synthetic opioid the deadliest drug in America. Cocaine consistently was the second or third drug most common in overdoses during the entire period, the researchers found. After declines earlier in the decade, the report said that overdose deaths from both cocaine and methamphetamine were starting to rise again.

After fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine were the deadliest drugs in 2016.

As an example, roughly 40 per cent of people listed as dying of a cocaine overdose also had fentanyl in their system. Although many drug users think they are buying heroin, they don't know they're buying fentanyl.

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