BOSTON (AP) – Massachusetts remains in an opioid crisis with more than 1,500 deaths in the first nine months of…
BOSTON (AP) – Massachusetts remains in an opioid crisis with more than 1,500 deaths in the first nine months of 2018, most related to the powerful synthetic opioid phenol, according to new government figures released Friday.
The Institute’s latest quarterly report on opioid related deaths also pointed to some encouraging trends, including a small case of overdose deaths compared to last year and a continued reduction in the number of prescriptions written by doctors for opioid analgesics. [1
9659005] The report said there were 1,518 opioid related overdose deaths in September this year, a number including deaths confirmed to have been caused by overdose and others expected to be added to the list when an official decision was released. By 2017, the state reported 1,538 confirmed and estimated overdose deaths.
While there were fewer deaths so far this year, the state appears not to be in line to match the 4 percent decline that occurred between 2016 and 2017.  Fentanyl was present in 90 percent of the toxicological reports in opioid death in the second quarter in the current year, a figure tripled since 2014, the report concluded. On the other hand, heroin, which occurs in more than 70 percent of opioid-related deaths that year, decreased to 37 percent in April-June this year.
“The opioid epidemic, run by a full-time high level of fentanyl, remains a tragic public health crisis responsible for taking too many lives in Massachusetts,” said Republican government Charlie Baker in a statement accompanying the report. “While there is a lot of work left for us all to do, we are urged that overdose deaths and opioid prescriptions continue to decrease as searches on Commonwealth’s Reception Monitoring Program.”
Legislation signed by Baker in 2016 aimed at excessive or unnecessary analgesic use that can lead to opioid dependence by limiting first-time opioid prescriptions to a 7-day supply and allowing patients to request pharmacy to fill less fully prescription for an opioid.
About 547,000 schedule II opioid recipes were reported to the monitoring program in the third quarter of this year, a decrease of 35 percent from 2015, reported the report. Prescription drugs were present in 17 percent of toxicological reports of overdose deaths in the second quarter of 2018.
After signing a bill earlier this year that closed a loophole in state law that prevented charges against fentanyl-related crimes, Baker recently left $ 5 million to help law enforcement agencies intensify and coordinate fentanyl spreads.
Even disturbing government officials said it was a discovery that opioid-related overdose deaths in black men increased 44 percent in 2017, although deaths fell among the total population.
“We are also targeting public awareness awareness campaigns for black communities in Massachusetts, including a campaign to raise awareness of the importance of wearing naloxone, the opioid reversal medicine,” says Monica Bharel, State Public Health Commissioner.
A study released earlier this week by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation describing the economic impact of the opioid crisis pointed to billions of dollars in lost productivity as a result of employees whose work ability has been compromised or not at all possible due to opioid addiction. The report also conservatively linked the annual healthcare costs associated with the public and private epidemic – to $ 4.5 billion, while noting that figure is likely to be underestimated.