Nearly two-thirds of drug overdose deaths in 2015 were linked to a prescription or illicit opioid, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data released Friday.
More than 52,000 people died because of a drug overdose last year, of which 33,091 (63 percent) were because of a prescription or illicit opioid, the data shows. The death rates for synthetic opioids grew 72.2 percent from 2014 to 2015, with synthetic opioid and heroin death rates up across all age groups for men and women over 15, and among all races and ethnicities.
“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,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a statement.
President Barack Obama this week signed into a law a bill with $1 billion in funding to aid states in the fight against opioid addiction. The CDC also found that synthetic opioid death rates increased in 16 states from 2014 to 2015, and heroin deaths increased in 11 states over the same time period.