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25 February, 2017

US drug overdose deaths doubled since 1999

New figures by the US government show the rate of fatal drug overdoses in the United States more than doubled since 1999, as authorities in several parts of the country grapple with America’s continuing opioid epidemic.

Rates of fatal drug overdoses have dramatically increased since 1999, rising from 6.1 deaths per 100,000 people to 16.3 deaths per 100,000 in 2015, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Friday.

Opioids killed more than 33,000 Americans in 2015, more than any year on record, the CDC said, which estimates that 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.

That number is higher than the rate of death for suicides in the US, 13.4 deaths per 100,000, or the rate of death from car accidents, 11.1 deaths per 100,000 residents.

The CDC report also shows that the number of deadly heroin overdoses in the United States more than quadrupled from 2010 to 2015. But the increase was not all due to opioids, the percent of drug deaths from cocaine increased to 13 percent in 2015 compared to 11 percent in 2010. Americans between the ages of 45 to 54 had the highest rate of fatal drug overdoses overall in 2015, with 30 deaths reported per 100,000.

The report shows overdose deaths related to opioids are increasing at an "incredible rate," said Dr. Caleb Alexander, a co-director for the Johns Hopkins Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness. "Each year I think it's hard to imagine it getting much worse and yet last year we had the highest number of deaths on record," Alexander said.

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