Illicitly Manufactured Fentanyl-Involved Deaths Increased 2019 to 2020

Sharp increase in deaths in Midwestern, Southern, Western jurisdictions; stimulant also involved in about four of 10 IMF-involved deaths

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WEDNESDAY, Dec. 15, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Overdose deaths involving illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF-involved deaths) increased sharply in Midwestern, Southern, and Western jurisdictions during July 2019 to December 2020, according to research published in the Dec. 14 early-release issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Julie O'Donnell, Ph.D., from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues used data from the agency's State Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System (SUDORS) to describe trends in overdose deaths involving IMFs during July 2019 to December 2020 in 29 states and the District of Columbia (DC) and the characteristics of IMF-involved deaths during 2020 in 39 states and DC.

The researchers found that IMF-involved deaths increased sharply in Midwestern, Southern, and Western jurisdictions (33.1, 64.7, and 93.9 percent, respectively) participating in SUDORS during July 2019 to December 2020. A stimulant was also involved in about four in 10 IMF-involved deaths. Overall, 56.1 percent of decedents had no pulse when first responders arrived, highlighting the need for timely overdose response. The most frequently reported individual route of drug use was injection drug use (24.5 percent), but 27.1 percent of decedents had evidence of snorting, smoking, or ingestion, but not injection drug use.

"Innovative approaches are needed to address the endemic nature of IMF-involved overdoses, noninjection routes of IMF use, and frequent polysubstance use, in particular, the rising use of opioids and stimulants," the authors write.

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