Drug overdoses caused more than 50,000 deaths in the United States in 2015, the most ever, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.
Deaths from heroin rose 23% from 2014 before to nearly 13,000 and deaths from synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, rose 73% to nearly 9,600.
- Overdose caused more deaths in 2015 than car accidents, which killed nearly 38,000, and gun-related violence, which took a little more than 36,000 lives.
Opioid-related deaths have hit record highs in each of the past two years. Overdose deaths involving opioids claimed nearly 29,000 lives in 2014 and more than 33,000 in 2015, according to a statement released by the White House.
The Obama administration has made substance use issues, particularly those related to opioids, a priority. Since President Barack Obama has entered the White House, the CDC has issued new guidelines for prescribing opioids and the FDA has developed new standards for approving prescription opioids.
The federal government isn’t the only one stepping in to fight the opioid epidemic. In November, Cigna launched an initiative aimed at reducing opioid prescribing by 25% over the next three years. In September, athenahealth announced it would draw on its databases to publish updates on opioid prescribing practices. Still, it appears more work needs to be done to fight back against the opioid epidemic.