CDC study highlights drastic rise in overdose deaths caused by opioid painkillers

by Eric Pearson

Opioid overdose deaths in some states have risen by nearly 200% over the last five years, according to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency reported that overdose deaths caused by prescription painkillers have risen by 33% nationwide.

More than 52,000 Americans died in 2015 from a drug overdose, according to the CDC data. About two-thirds of those cases involved opioid medications such as fentanyl, oxycodone, methadone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, or morphine.

Deaths from synthetic opioid medications such as fentanyl rose by 73% in 2015, with 9,580 deaths reported nationwide. Deaths from prescription painkillers caused the greatest number of fatalities, with 17,536 deaths overall, a 4% increase from the previous year.

According to the CDC data, New Hampshire had the highest increase in deaths due to opioid overdoses, with a 191% increase over the last five years. Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, and North Dakota each saw an increase in the number of deaths caused by opioids of more than 100%.

Out of 28 states for which death certificate data for opioid overdoses was available, the CDC reports that 16 saw an increase in the number of deaths caused by synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl. The greatest increases occurred in New York, Connecticut, and Illinois, which saw an increase in the number of synthetic opioid deaths of 136%, 126%, and 120%, respectively.

As the CDC data indicates, the northeastern U.S. has been especially hard-hit by the opioid crisis. Opioid overdose deaths were expected to top 500 in New Hampshire last year. The state’s legislature has proposed a bill that would allocate $1 billion to fight abuse involving illicit opioids and prescription painkillers.

Dr. Tom Frieden, the head of the CDC, said that state and federal agencies must take action in order to combat this increase in the number of overdose deaths that have occurred due to the opioid epidemic. “Urgent action is needed to help health care providers treat pain safely and treat opioid use disorder effectively, support law enforcement strategies to reduce the availability of illicit opiates, and support states to develop and implement programs that can save lives,” Frieden said.

Thousands of Americans Affected by U.S. Opioid Epidemic

The massive increase in the number of opioid prescriptions in the U.S. over the last 20 years has had a significant cost on the health of American patients. According to a recent study by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation, one in three patients who use opioid mediations are affected by addiction or dependence on these medications.

Problems with abuse, addiction, and dependency caused by opioid painkillers can increase the risk of an overdose. The overprescription of opioid medications has been linked to thousands of deaths in the U.S. each year.

In recent years, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, and the CDC have each taken steps to combat the U.S. opioid epidemic. But despite these measures, thousands of Americans lose their lives or other serious health consequences as a result of opioid medications.

Opioid Overdose Victims May Qualify to File a Lawsuit

If you or a loved one have been a victim of an overdose caused by prescription painkillers, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the drug or the doctor or medical care center that prescribed your medication. The first step in taking legal action is to speak with an attorney who has the experience in filing opioid lawsuits to advise you regarding your legal rights and guide you through the process of filing a case.

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have filed more cases involving the opioid fentanyl than all other law firms in the U.S. combined. Our law firm has also handled numerous cases involving other opioid medications.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson has taken on some of the largest corporations in the world on behalf of our clients. In addition to the claims we have handled involving opioids, our law firm has also handled cases involving other types of dangerous drugs, as well as cases involving defective medical devices and other hazardous consumer products. Our law firm believes that when consumers are injured by dangerous products, they should have the right to know that their legal interests fully protected by an attorney in a court of law.

For more information about lawsuits involving opioid painkillers and to find out if you qualify to file a case, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson for a free legal consultation. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by following the link to our free case evaluation form and answering a few brief questions about your case to get started.

by Eric Pearson

Eric Pearson is a licensed attorney and a partner at HO&P who handles commercial and personal injury lawsuits. Eric has been selected to the Super Lawyers List, a Thomson Reuters publication.