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Opioid-Related Overdose Deaths Decline in MA, Says New Report

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

 

Opioid-related overdose deaths declined by an estimated five percent over the first three months of 2017, while the number of overdose deaths where fentanyl was present rose to 85%, according to the latest quarterly opioid-related deaths report released on Tuesday by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

“While there is still a lot of work to do, we are encouraged to see opioid-related deaths declining and prescriptions for Schedule II drugs significantly decreasing through our reconfigured prescription monitoring program. Our administration was pleased to see the Legislature act on a bill to crack down on fentanyl and now urge them to pass the CARE Act to expand access to treatment and continue the momentum we have against this epidemic,” said Governor Charlie Baker.

The Report

The quarterly report found that for the first three months of 2018, opioid-related overdose deaths declined by an estimated 5 percent over the first three months of 2017, according to preliminary data.

The report also found that the total number of estimated and confirmed opioid-related deaths for 2017 is 2,016, which is 133 fewer deaths than the 2,149 estimated and confirmed deaths in 2016, or a 6 percent decline.

"Our latest report provides a clear roadmap on addressing existing challenges. This quarterly report and the accompanying additional analysis provide us with tremendous insight into how we can more strategically target our resources and interventions,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders.

According to the report, the rate of fentanyl present in the toxicology of opioid-related overdose deaths climbed to 85 percent in 2017, while the rate of heroin or likely heroin present in opioid-related deaths declined between 2015 and 2016 and stabilized in 2017 to about 44 percent of opioid-related overdose deaths in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH added, “The quarterly reports are snapshots in time and they give us extremely useful information to better understand the trajectory of this epidemic. While we’re making progress, we continue to increase access to treatment and recovery supports, and will tailor responses for particular populations including black residents whose overdose death rates are increasing, based on this data.’’

 

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