CDC Identifies Drugs Frequently Involved in Drug Overdose Deaths

Oxycodone, heroin, and fentanyl ranked first in 2011, 2012-2015, 2016; cocaine ranked second or third

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WEDNESDAY, Dec. 12, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- The drugs most commonly involved in drug overdose deaths during 2011 to 2016 include fentanyl, heroin, oxycodone, and cocaine, according to the Dec. 12 issue of the National Vital Statistics Reports, a publication from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Holly Hedegaard, M.D., M.S.P.H., from the National Center for Health Statistics in Hyattsville, Maryland, and colleagues identified the specific drugs involved in drug overdose deaths in the United States from 2011 through 2016 using data from the National Vital Statistics System-Mortality files linked to electronic files containing literal text information from death certificates.

The researchers found that the 10 most frequently mentioned drugs among drug overdose deaths were fentanyl, heroin, hydrocodone, methadone, morphine, oxycodone, alprazolam, diazepam, cocaine, and methamphetamine. In 2011, oxycodone ranked first, while heroin and fentanyl were ranked first during 2012 to 2015 and in 2016, respectively. Cocaine consistently ranked second or third during the study period. The age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths involving heroin more than tripled from 2011 through 2016, as did the rate of drug overdose deaths involving methamphetamine. Each year from 2013 to 2016, the rate of drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl and fentanyl analogs doubled (0.6, 1.3, 2.6, and 5.9 per 100,000 in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016, respectively).

"This report highlights the critical importance of reporting the specific drugs involved in drug overdose deaths in the literal text on death certificates," the authors write.

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