CDC: Fentanyl Deaths Rise In Arizona, Nationally

By Will Stone
Published: Monday, April 2, 2018 - 9:17am
Updated: Monday, April 2, 2018 - 9:47am

Deaths from synthetic opioids rose more than 60 percent from 2015 to 2016 in Arizona.

Nationally that number doubled, according to new numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Experts attribute the sharp increase to the spread of the highly potent opioid fentanyl into the supply of heroin and other street drugs.

In June, Arizona began monitoring opioid deaths in real-time. Those findings suggest fentanyl is not playing as big a role in Arizona as compared to New England or the Midwest.

Less than 5 percent of the verified deaths in the second half of 2017 involved fentanyl, according to data collected by the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS).

“We do appear to be holding back some of that tidal wave when you compare us to other states,” ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ said

More than 1,000 people are suspected of dying from opioids in the past nine months in Arizona. The department still has to go back and verify the cause of some of those deaths.

“It will likely not be as high as what is being reported in real time, but our community still has to respond as though all of these are confirmed because that’s what they are experiencing in the field,” Christ said.

If those numbers aren’t significantly revised, Arizona would be on track to have more deaths in 2017 than the year before.

Earlier this year, Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law a package of new laws and regulations aimed at curbing the state’s opioid epidemic. Those rules don’t go into effect until the end of April.


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