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June 15, 2018

CDC Says Overdose Rates Jumped Across All ED Visits; Deputy AG Rosenstein Outlines Enforcement

Allison Inserro
In another sign of the worsening opioid crisis, a recently released CDC report found that emergency department (ED) visits for opioid overdoses rose 30% in all parts of the country from July 2016 through September 2017.
In another sign of the worsening opioid crisis, a recently released CDC report found that emergency department (ED) visits for opioid overdoses rose 30% in all parts of the country from July 2016 through September 2017.

Significant rate increases were found in 5 Midwest region states, with the biggest jump in Wisconsin, at 109%. Delaware led 3 Northeast region states with a 105% increase. In the Southeast, overdose rates increased 31% in North Carolina and fell 15% in Kentucky. Nonsignificant decreases (<10%) were found in 3 Northeast states.

No demographic group was left untouched, with each 1 having substantial rate increases:
  • Males rose 30%
  • Females rose 24%
Among age groups:
  • 25-34 increased 31%
  • 35-54 increased 36%
  • 55 and older increased 32%
The highest opioid overdose rate increases occurred in urban cities with a population of 1 million or more.

The CDC report used real-time public health data called syndromic data, which originated as an early warning system for disease outbreaks, emerging infections or bioterror incidents. It can alert communities of changes in opioid overdoses because of the rapid availability of the data.

The CDC report was released a day after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein spoke at the 2018 National Health Policy Conference of America’s Health Insurance Plans in Washington, DC.

Rosenstein spoke about how after decades of rising, life expectancy fell in 2015 and 2016 due to the opioid crisis. He recapped actions the Trump administration is taking to attack the issue all along the distribution chain, including:
  • Creating the Prescription Interdiction & Litigation Task Force to coordinate criminal and civil enforcement efforts to hold accountable prescription drug manufacturers, distributors, pharmacies, pain management clinics, drug testing facilities, and individual physicians;
  • Creating the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit, which employs data analytics to find outliers and possible crime signals via individual prescribing patterns of doctors, dispensing patterns of pharmacies, and whose patients are dying from overdoses.
Both the CDC and Rosenstein noted that being seen frequently in the ED is a chance to intervene, since patients with substance use disorder who overdose are likely to do so again. Repeat overdoses may be prevented with medication-assisted treatment and referrals to treatment.

“ED data provide an early warning system for health departments to identify increases in opioid overdoses more quickly and coordinate response efforts,” the CDC report said. “This fast-moving epidemic does not stay within state and county lines. Coordinated action between EDs, health departments, mental health and treatment providers, community-based organizations, and law enforcement can prevent opioid overdose and death.”

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