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U.S. Opioid Epidemic Worsening; Overdose Deaths Far Greater than Reported

Aug. 9, 2017 (EIRNS)—Yesterday, in general remarks, President Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Thomas Price reported on the Administration’s multi-agency effort to tackle the opioid crisis afflicting the country. Asked about whether the President intended to declare a national public health emergency, Price replied that the President "sees it as an emergency—it is an emergency," but said that, at this time, there would be no formal declaration.

Declaration or not, two reports issued within the past few days underscore the dire nature of the crisis, and the need for the kind of measures advocated by Lyndon LaRouche to put an end to the British Empire’s—and Dope, Inc.’s—Opium War against the United States and all of the Americas.

Data released by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), which is part of the Atlanta Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveal that the opioid epidemic is worsening across the country, according to PBS’s program "Frontline." During the third quarter of 2016, there were almost 20 overdose deaths for every 100,000 people, compared to 16.7 for the same period of 2015. Overdose deaths rose during the first half of 2016, and while statistics aren’t available for the latter part of that year, if trends follow the same pattern, the total number of drug-related deaths will easily eclipse the record 52,404 deaths of 2015, according to this report.

A report published by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine on Aug. 7, suggests that the government is not accurately reporting on the full extent of the crisis—that is, it is under-reporting the number of overdose deaths. In analyzing data from death certificates around the country, the study’s author, University of Virginia professor Christopher Ruhm, found that the opioid-related death rate was 24% higher than reported by the government, and overdose deaths caused specifically by heroin were 22% higher than official estimates.

Particularly in the states of Alabama, Indiana, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, opioid-related deaths were more than 100% higher than official estimates. According to Frontline, the under-reporting is due, in part, to the fact that hospitals don’t always list the specific drug that caused an individual’s death. In some years, up to a quarter of all death certificates do not contain this information, Frontline explained.