CDC Paints a Grim Picture of the U.S. Fentanyl Crisis in Ohio

In their September 1 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) examined the fentanyl crisis in Ohio. The CDC described in ‘Overdose Deaths Related to Fentanyl and Its Analogs — Ohio, January–February 2017’ how fentanyl in both counterfeit pill and powder form is killing American citizens in record numbers. 

According to the CDC, “Approximately 90% of unintentional overdose deaths in 24 Ohio counties that occurred during January and February 2017 involved fentanyl, fentanyl analogs, or both.”

The CDC points out “During 2010–2015, unintentional drug overdose deaths in Ohio increased 98%, from 1,544 to 3,050." In Montgomery County, which was the focus of the CDC study, unintentional overdose deaths increased 40% in one year, from 2015-2016.

Former FBI Director Louis J. Freeh has warned that this crisis will be exacerbated by drug importation proposals. "Large-scale of importation of pharmaceutical products from outside the United States would only strain law enforcement's already overburdened resources that have been focused on the opioid crisis." Drug importation would provide cover for criminal organizations to smuggle illicit drugs in the U.S. "masked as legitimate prescription drugs." There is already precedence for illicit opioids to be hidden in legitimate-looking medications, with counterfeit pills containing fentanyl found in the majority of U.S. states.

The CDC’s findings in Montgomery County illustrate how severe the fentanyl crisis is there. They examined 281 unintentional overdose fatalities throughout Ohio and found “90% of all decedents tested positive for fentanyl, 48% for acryl fentanyl, 31% for furanyl fentanyl, and 8% for carfentanil.”

The CDC also emphasizes that fentanyl death numbers may be underreported because illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF) has “not been part of routine toxicology testing at the coroner’s offices and other types of medical and criminal justice settings across the country Thus, data on IMF test results in the current outbreak have been limited.”

In June of this year, the Montgomery County Coroner Kent Harshbarger described for NBC News how fentanyl is creating a “mass casualty event” in his county.  NBC also notes, “The death toll has overwhelmed the coroner, who tests for more than two dozen varieties of fentanyl during autopsies, and the county morgue’s body cooler is consistently filled with overdose victims.”

Counterfeit versions of medications such as Xanax, Percocet and Oxycodone have all turned up in Ohio in the last year. To learn more about how counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl are menacing Ohio residents, please read Counterfeit Fentanyl Pills In Ohio.