Less than a month after it was reported that Johnson & Johnson will have to pay $230 million for allegedly “fueling” the opioid crisis in the United States, the CDC has released new estimates for the number of people who suffered drug-induced deaths over the last year. According to Complex, overdose deaths soared to a record 93,000 in 2020, which far exceeds the previous record high of 72,000 drug overdose deaths reached in 2019.
The 29% increase is reportedly the biggest year-to-year jump since 2016, and the CDC estimates that there were more than 250 drug overdose deaths each day and 11 per hour during the pandemic, with the main drugs causing the overdoses being prescription painkillers, heroin, and fentanyl.
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According to Complex, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) also commented on the CDC’s recently published report.
“This has been an incredibly uncertain and stressful time for many people and we are seeing an increase in drug consumption, difficulty in accessing life-saving treatments for substance use disorders, and a tragic rise in overdose deaths.” Volkow continued, “As we continue to address both the COVID-19 pandemic and the opioid crisis, we must prioritize making treatment options more widely available to people with substance use disorders.”
With Dr. Nora Volkow’s statement adding context to the CDC’s remarks, one can only hope that the country combats the opioid crisis and learns how to navigate the stresses of the pandemic in order to help bring down the number of drug overdoses in the United States.