I talk quite a bit about the ongoing opioid epidemic in our country because it is an incredibly important – and disturbing – reality. People are dying because of this class of drug at an alarming rate, and that doesn’t have to be the case.
The rate of drug overdose deaths has tripled in the United States since 1999, rising to 63,600 deaths in 2016. This number represents a 21 percent increase in drug overdose deaths since 2015 alone, according to a US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics report. What is even more alarming than that increase is this. The majority of those deaths – 66 percent – involved opioids!
Opioids are so addictive, so incredibly dangerous that the opioid epidemic was declared a public health emergency in 2017. Let’s put this grave matter into terms we can all understand.
Statistics prove that drug overdose deaths from opioids totaled 42,249 in 2016. This is over 1,000 more deaths than was caused by breast cancer in that same year. Drug overdose deaths from opioids have also eclipsed deaths from HIV-AIDs during the very peak of its epidemic!
Even more concerning is that provisional data on opioid-induced death rates for 2017 appear to be rising. Incomplete data estimates that more than 66,000 people have died due to overdose, the majority, no doubt, via the use of opioids. “The fact that the data is incomplete and they represent an increase is concerning,” Anderson said.
Perhaps most infuriating is that big Pharma – as well as the Federal government – knows how destructive and dangerous opioids are and how this epidemic is killing people and ripping families apart. Yet, there is but a small interest in addressing this epidemic in a meaningful way. It appears that the big-money lobbyists representing big Pharma are performing quite well on Capitol Hill for the monies they are paid.
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