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FDA: Overdose Deaths Have Doubled for Insys Therapeutics’ Fentanyl


A new report shows that Fentanyl overdose deaths doubled between 2013 and 2014 in the U.S. There were 1,905 Fentanyl overdose deaths in 2013 and 4,200 in 2014. Fentanyl, made by Insys Therapeutics, is the company that donated $500,000 to fight against Arizona’s recreational marijuana ballot initiative, and recently had some of their executives arrested by feds for racketeering on allegations of bribery and kickbacks to doctors.

The information was compiled from research conducted at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FDA, according to The Huffington Post. Codes are used on death certificates to show the cause of death. In terms of drug overdoses, the same code may be used for a group of drugs, such as oxycodone and morphine, which are grouped as opioid analgesics.

This time around, researchers used notes written on death certificates and analyzed the text used as well. Doing so allowed the researchers to determine the specific drug the deceased overdosed on. In 2014, fentanyl showed to be the 5th most common prescription painkiller that caused lethal overdoses.

The researchers went a step further and studied heroin overdose deaths during a 5-year period. The numbers tripled from 3,020 in 2010 to 10,863 heroin overdose deaths in 2014. In 2014, there were a total of 36,667 drug overdose deaths, and in 48% of the cases, more than one drug was found in the deceased.

What’s even more alarming is that one-third of cocaine overdose cases also found heroin in the body. Even more alarming is that 95% of overdose deaths involved diazepam (valium) or alprazolam in toxicology reports, both used to treat anxiety.

From 2014 through 2015, a 72% increase in opioid overdose deaths was reported. These numbers include associations of fentanyl, tramadol and other synthetic opioids.  In addition, from 2014 through 2015, heroin overdose deaths increased 20%.

Photo: nhpr.org

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