Danya Institute Inc.

New Study Suggests Overdose Deaths Now Caused Mainly By Synthetic Opioids

From JAMA2018;319(17):1819-1821. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.2844

Changes in Synthetic Opioid Involvement in Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 2010-2016

Drug overdose deaths are at unprecedented levels in the United States.1 Prescription opioids have been the most common drug involved in overdose deaths, but heroin and synthetic opioids (primarily illicit fentanyl) are increasingly implicated in overdoses.2 In addition, synthetic opioids are increasingly found in illicit drug supplies of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and counterfeit pills.3 To date, the involvement of synthetic opioids in overdose deaths involving other drugs is not well characterized, limiting the ability to implement effective clinical and public health strategies. Using 2010-2016 mortality data, we describe recent trends for synthetic opioid involvement in drug overdose deaths.