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Overdose Death Rates Rose More Last Year Than in the Last Four Combined

November 3, 2017, 9:35 AM UTC

Deaths by drug overdose spiked by 21% last year, amounting to a larger jump than over the previous four years combined, according to new federal data that starkly illustrate what President Trump has declared a national emergency.

Bloomberg reported that for every 100,000 residents, nearly 20 died from drug overdoses in 2016. For comparison, in 2015 the rate was 16.3, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Every quarter of 2016 saw an increase in drug-related deaths.

Overall rates of overdose-related deaths in America have more than tripled in this century, according to Bloomberg. The analysis for 2016 is anchored in provisional data from the CDC, which calculates mortality data from death certificates maintained by state and local authorities. Because drug deaths take a long time to certify, final numbers will be calculated by the end of the year.

Trump’s “emergency” declaration last month was intended to unlock additional funds and allow wider, quicker access to treatment. However, some state officials and medical experts have argued that, while a definite step in the right direction, the newly-released funding will still take time to reach states and counties.

Trump’s declaration came after allegations that the U.S.’s biggest drug distributors – and some senior politicians –had colluded to fuel the opioid epidemic, leading directly to thousands of avoidable deaths.

Addictive opioids were responsible for more than 60% of the 52,000-plus drug overdose deaths in 2016. On Tuesday, the State of New Jersey sued OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, accusing it of deceptive marketing to doctors and patients, including the elderly and the “opioid-naive.”