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Drug Overdoses linked to Synthetic Opioids


Drug Overdoses linked to Synthetic Opioids

By Dr. Jessica Badichek, PharmD

According to CDC analysis of the latest drug overdose death data, there were 63,632 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2016. This was calculated as a 21.4% increase from 2015 data and the largest increase was from overdoses involving synthetic opioids other than methadone and including illicitly manufactured fentanyl. 2016 to 2017 data also revealed an increase in deaths involving synthetic opioids while the rate of overdoses from other prescribed opioids and heroin remained the same. Preliminary 2018 data has revealed a possible improvement in these rates, however this data is still being evaluated. This data reveals how important the efforts of communities, pharmacies and healthcare professionals are on reversing the opioid crisis and saving lives.

Synthetic opioids include the pharmaceutically manufactured drug fentanyl. Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. Pharmaceutically manufactured fentanyl is reserved only for severe pain such as that involved in cancer. Illicitly manufactured (non-pharmaceutically manufactured) fentanyl has been reported to actually contain analogs of fentanyl such as carfentanil. Carfentanil is estimated to be 10,000 times more potent than morphine. Synthetic opioids are incredibly potent opioids and when used illicitly or improperly when prescribed, can lead to a high risk for overdose and death.

CDC officials also concluded that this recent data reinforces the continued need for increasing access to naloxone, providing patients with access to treatment and educating patients and providers about safe medication practices. Synthetic opioids have a high risk for harm, adverse effects and overdose. This data demonstrates the overall need for increased awareness on the dangers of these medications as well as access to life-saving medications such as naloxone.

Help & Resources:
CDC Guide to Opioids
SAMHSA Treatment Near You
FDA Disposal of Unused Medications

Important Information: The information contained in this blog is meant for INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. This information is not individual medical advice and does not substitute for the advice of your healthcare professional. Always ask your physician or healthcare professional for complete information regarding your care.

About the Author:
Dr. Jessica Badichek is the Director of Clinical Operations at CompreCareRx. With extensive knowledge of psychiatric therapeutics, substance use disorder therapies and pharmaceutical compounding, she is dedicated to providing optimal clinical care policies that focus on the needs of every individual patient. She has a passion for caring for those suffering from addiction and seeks to provide superior clinical care. She holds a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and is a registered pharmacist.