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Home Home Wellness News Fentanyl Fuels Latest Spike in Opioid Deaths
Fentanyl Fuels Latest Spike in Opioid Deaths
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The increase in overdose deaths stretched across all groups of Americans -- men and women, all age categories, all races and ethnicities, and everywhere from rural communities to metropolitan centers.

"No area of the United States is exempt from this epidemic," CDC Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat said in a CDC statement. "We all know a friend, family member or loved one devastated by opioids."

However, overdose death rates differed between states, with northeastern states bearing the brunt of fentanyl-related deaths, the study findings showed.

New Hampshire (30.3 deaths per 100,000 people), West Virginia (26.3/100,000) and Massachusetts (23.5/100,000) had the highest synthetic opioid death rates. Overall, death rates from synthetic opioids increased in 20 states and Washington D.C., with 10 doubling their rates from 2015 to 2016, according to the report.

Death rates from other opioids also continued to increase nationwide, including prescription opioids (10.6 percent) and heroin (19.5 percent), the researchers reported.

Increases in overdose death rates for cocaine and stimulants (like methamphetamine) also increased, by just over 52 percent and 33 percent, respectively.

The findings were published March 30 in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Glatter said that one deadly street drug trend, involving a product known as Gray Death, is especially worrisome.

Gray Death often contains a varying mix of heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil (an elephant tranquilizer 100 times more potent than fentanyl), and another powerful synthetic opioid called U-47700, Glatter said.

"Gray Death actually looks like concrete, varying in consistency from a fine powder to a rocky or chunky appearance," Glatter said. "The reason that this concoction is so attractive is its price, $10 to $20, compared with the cost of an oxycodone or hydrocodone tablet that may run $25 to $40 on the street."

To prevent these deaths, there needs to be improved access to naloxone (Narcan), the lifesaving overdose-reversing medication, said Dr. Sandeep Kapoor. He is director of SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment) for Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

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