The report analyzed overdose deaths that yielded positive results for fentanyl and similar compounds between July 2016 and June 2017 in 10 states: Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, West Virginia and Wisconsin. From July 2016 to December 2016, the CDC found 764 deaths related to fentanyl and fentanyl analogue in all 10 states. In the following six months, from January 2017 to June 2017, the CDC recorded 1,511 deaths from drug overdoses.
When legitimately prescribed, fentanyl helps patients control extreme pain, such as that caused by cancer. It is usually dosed in the form of tablets, patches or intravenously. However, illicit forms of the drug are commonly sold in the form of powder or compressed into pills. Fentanyl and chemically similar variations, known as analogues have been sold on the black market and can be extremely potent.
According to the CDC, there were 20,310 deaths from synthetic opioid overdoses in 2016, and that number is expected to increase 45% to 29,400 in 2017.
The recent increase in the popularity of these synthetic products has been called the third wave of the opiate epidemic; The first wave was attributed to the overprescription of analgesics such as oxycodone and hydrocodone and the second to heroin. The drugs are chemically similar and act on the same receptors in the brain.
CDC Problem Alert
The updated notice warned that fentanyl was detected in combination with medications such as benzodiazepines, counterfeit opioid pills, ketamine and methamphetamine.
Because of the potency of drugs now available, the alert warned healthcare providers that multiple doses of naloxone, the opioid antidote, may be needed to revive someone from an overdose.
The effort to stop the drug overdose crisis has reached every corner of public health and government.
Congressional research on distribution practices
McCaskill's research focused only on Missouri but identified lapses in the larger pharmaceutical distribution process.
The report found that the three distributors "systematically failed" in reporting.
For example, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen sent about 650 million pills to Missouri between 2012 and 2017. In that time period, McKesson reported more than 16,700 suspicious orders to the DEA, while AmerisourceBergen made only 224 reports of suspicious orders in that period. Cardinal Health reported 5,125 questionable orders to the DEA.
Although the report indicated that the findings themselves did not detect anything illegal, it highlighted potential flaws in the system that could lead to legal drugs being diverted to the black market.
"The opiate crisis that these pills have fueled is a failure of policy and oversight by the government and a failure of basic human morals on the part of many pharmaceutical companies and distributors, a failure that has destroyed families and communities in our entire state, "McCaskill said in a statement.
Companies trusted in their practices
In response to the report, McKesson said that "we have invested significant resources in our antiescamo program and, since 2008, blocked and reported more than one million suspicious orders in the whole country ".
AmerisourceBergen echoed a commitment to help end the opiate crisis and track suspicious orders. In a statement, the company said: "The AmerisourceBergen order control program involves two key steps: marking orders for review using our complex computer algorithm and conducting a detailed investigation of each marked order. our suspicious orders inform the highly accurate and actionable DEA. "
Potential drop in opioid addiction rates
In 2016, diagnoses of opiate addiction reached a maximum of 6.2 cases per 1,000 Blue Cross Blue Shield members. In 2017, that rate decreased slightly, to 5.9 cases per 1,000 members.