The CDC released a new report showing drug overdoses killed more than 70,000 Americans in 2017 due to the opioid epidemic.
Dr. Kevin Zacharoff is a clinical professor of preventative medicine at Stony Brook Medicine and an opioid abuse expert. He is a member of the Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Products Advisory Committee for the Food and Drug Administration, a Board Certified Anesthesiologist with more than 30 years of clinical practice experience in Anesthesiology and Pain medicine. Dr. Zacharoff is the co-author of The PainEDU.org Manual: A Pocket Guide to Pain Management and Managing Chronic Pain with Opioids in Primary Care.
Regarding the CDC’s report, Dr. Zacharoff says:
- What concerns me most about this new information is the fact that "The rate of drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone (drugs such as fentanyl, fentanyl analogs, and tramadol) increased 45% from 6.2 per 100,000 in 2016 to 9.0 in 2017." (Source - NCHS Data Brief No. 329 November 2018). A 45% increase in one year is incredibly steep, and should be telling us that more judicious prescribing of opioids alone is not likely going to change this trend.
- There seems to be some degree of misunderstanding about synthetic opioids like fentanyl regarding potency as a possible cause of the increase in overdose deaths. Fentanyl and its analogs, whether illicitly or pharmaceutically manufactured are all significantly potent medications by definition, and in any amount are never safe to be used recreationally or by substance abusers in any amount. It is not likely that mistaken or unreliable measurements are responsible for the overdose deaths, it is much more likely that in the wrong (non-clinical) circumstances, these medications can be reliably very dangerous.
Dr. Zacharoff is available for interview by phone, Skype or live via the VideoLink Studio located on the Stony Brook University campus. To schedule an interview with him, contact Cassandra Huneke at 631 572-0569 or [email protected]
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