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Washington, D.C. – Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data that show that overdose deaths associated with prescription and illicit opioids increased to 33,091 in 2015 (see data summary below). The increase in deaths was driven in large part by continued sharp increases in deaths involving heroin and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. As in 2014, overdose deaths involving prescription opioids (excluding the category of synthetic opioids that includes fentanyl) rose only slightly, suggesting that efforts in recent years to reduce the misuse of these drugs may be having an impact.
“The prescription opioid and heroin epidemic continues to devastate communities and families across the country—in large part because too many people still do not get effective substance use disorder treatment,” said Michael Botticelli, Director of National Drug Control Policy. “That is why the President has called since February for $1 billion in new funding to expand access to treatment. This week Congress finally acted on the President’s request. The Administration will work to get this new funding out to States as quickly as possible to make sure that every American who wants treatment for an opioid use disorder is able to get it.”
“The epidemic of deaths involving opioids continues to worsen,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Prescription opioid misuse and use of heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl are intertwined and deeply troubling problems. We need to drastically improve both the treatment of pain and the treatment of opioid use disorders and increase the use of naloxone to reverse opioid overdose. We must also work collaboratively with our public safety partners to further reduce access to illicit opioids.”
The data released today are for 2015; since then the Administration has taken significant new actions to address the epidemic, including:
This week, Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act, which provides $1 billion in new funding that the President requested to combat the epidemic, primarily by increasing access to substance use disorder treatment.
Summary of 2015 Drug Overdose Data
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids rose from 28,647 in 2014 to 33,091 in 2015.
Additional information on Administration efforts to address the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic is here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/