CDC Report: Fentanyl Detected in Many Opioid Overdose Deaths

OCTOBER 31, 2017
More than half of people in 10 states who died of opioid overdoses during the second half of 2016 tested positive for fentanyl, according to data published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) Early Release.

CDC researchers examined opioid overdose deaths from July 1 to December 31, 2016 in 10 states: Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and Wisconsin and they noted that out of a total of 5,152 opioid overdose deaths, almost 3,000 tested positive for fentanyl. More than 700 tested positive for drugs that have similar chemical structures to fentanyl (fentanyl analogs)–including carfentanil.

This is the first report on data from the State Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System (SUDORS), which tracks fatal opioid overdoses and is a component of CDC’s Enhanced State Opioid Overdose Surveillance (ESOOS) program. SUDORS makes it possible to use toxicology and death scene investigation data previously unavailable across states, to provide insights into specific substances and circumstances driving overdoses. This information can help uncover changes in the opioid epidemic and inform interventions.

In their report, the CDC researchers noted that opioid overdose surveillance must expand to track the rapidly changing illicit opioid market. Funding for enhanced and timely surveillance is one of CDC’s key investments to inform opioid overdose prevention efforts. In addition to collaborating with Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration officials, CDC representatives have helped with funding ESOOS participant states to expand forensic toxicology testing and produced several advisories on fentanyl.

President recently Trump announced that he is declaring a Nationwide Public Health Emergency to address the opioids crisis.