Newswise — San Diego, Nov. 14, 2018 – New research presented today at the American Public Health Association’s 2018 Annual Meeting and Expo reveals new information about the role pharmaceutical fentanyl may be playing in the opioid crisis, linking prescriptions for fentanyl to overdose deaths. The findings raise questions about the many reports that pin fentanyl overdose deaths on illegally manufactured fentanyl.

The research found that 44 percent of people who died from fentanyl overdose had previously been prescribed fentanyl by a medical professional, and 37 percent of those people had a prescription for fentanyl within 60 days of their death.

About 5 percent of people whose overdose deaths were caused by other drugs had a history of pharmaceutical fentanyl use, with 1 percent of those having a prescription within 60 days of their death.

This research examined and matched overdose death records with patients’ prescription drug data in Delaware between January 2013 and March 2015.

From this data, study authors concluded that fentanyl prescribed in combination with other drugs may produce fatal drug interactions, and that pharmaceuticals for fentanyl and other drugs may exacerbate existing health problems, leading to death.

Lead researcher and professor of sociology at the University of Delaware Tammy Anderson said, “This data shows that the role of pharmaceutical fentanyl in the opioid crisis deserves further attention. The way the medical community prescribes fentanyl also warrants more examination, and it’s important that we learn more about how fentanyl interacts with other drugs and patients’ existing health problems.”

This research will be presented during the APHA Annual Meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 14, during session 5061.0: Impact of fentanyl on opioid overdoses.


About the APHA Annual Meeting and Expo:

APHA’s 146th Annual Meeting is themed “Creating the Healthiest Nation: Health Equity Now.” The Annual Meeting is the largest annual gathering of public health professionals and features over a thousand presentations on the latest research and newest thinking in the public health field.

About APHA:

APHA champions the health of all people and all communities. We strengthen the public health profession. We speak out for public health issues and policies backed by science. We are the only organization that influences federal policy, has a nearly 150-year perspective and brings together members from all fields of public health. Learn more at




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American Public Health Association’s 2018 Annual Meeting and Expo

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