The Synthetic Opioids Trafficking Commission has shared some startling data along with suggestions for tackling what it calls a “national crisis.”
The Synthetic Opioids Trafficking Commission released a report noting that drug overdoses have killed more than one million Americans since 1999, more than the number of combat deaths in all American wars in its history. story.1 The Commission was established under the National Defense Authorization Act for the fiscal year 2020 and is made up of representatives from 7 executive branch departments and agencies, 4 serving members of the Senate and the House of representatives and 4 subject matter experts from the private sector. chosen for their extensive experience and expertise.
The Commission has called deaths from drug overdoses a “national emergency”, noting that the situation has recently worsened. He estimated that about 100,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in the 12 months ending April 2021, and the majority of deaths involved fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. That’s double the number of people who died from traffic accidents or gun violence during the same period.
Citing a 2018 White House Council of Economic Advisers report, the Commission estimated the cost of overdose deaths at $696 billion. This number has likely increased to around $1 trillion per year since the original estimate, as the number of deaths then was around two-thirds of the current total.
According to the Commission’s report, the crisis can be traced to the 1995 decision by the United States Food and Drug Administration to approve OxyContin, a prescription opioid painkiller. This drug and similar drugs have been marketed as non-addictive pain remedies without regard to a patient’s other conditions that could lead to drug misuse. The result has been a dramatic increase in prescription opioid addiction and addiction.
Unfortunately, as prescription opioids became less readily available, people with addiction disorders frequently began using heroin and, sometimes unknowingly, powerful synthetic opioids. “In less than a decade, America’s illegal drug markets, once dominated by diverted prescription opioids and heroin, have become saturated with illegally manufactured synthetic opioids,” some of which are easier and cheaper to produce. than heroin, according to the report.
In 2014, when synthetic opioids such as fentanyl first appeared in the United States, they were largely manufactured and shipped from China. In recent years, however, Mexico has become the country of origin. The potency of fentanyl, combined with a lack of quality control and imprecise dosing, increases the risk of fatal overdose.
The Commission wrote: “The bottom line is that fentanyl is undeniably extremely dangerous for people who acquire drugs from illegal markets that operate with little transparency or care about consumer safety.
The report presented a multi-pronged strategy built around 5 pillars to address both the demand and supply of illegal drugs. The Commission suggested: developing a unified central body to coordinate the planning, implementation, and evaluation of all US drug policies; using targeted surveillance and enforcement to disrupt drug supply; put public health demand reduction approaches at the heart of the fight against opioid trafficking in order to reduce the number of potential buyers; collaborate with other countries involved in the production and distribution of synthetic opioids and the materials used to manufacture them; and improving monitoring and data analysis to enable faster and more effective responses.
The report ended with strong words: “Given the severity of this crisis, new approaches, additional resources and a review of ongoing interventions are essential.” Without such measures, he added, “the economic costs will continue to mount, and hundreds of thousands more Americans will perish from preventable drug overdoses.
A version of this article appears at Medical economicssister publication of Psychiatric timeMT.
1. Commission to Combat the Trafficking in Synthetic Opioids: Final Report. Reports of the Synthetic Opioids Trafficking Commission. February 7, 2022. Accessed February 19, 2022. https://www.rand.org/pubs/external_publications/EP68838.html