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The drug 100 times stronger than morphine that triggers overdose deaths in the U.S.

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Manish Saini
Manish works as a Journalist and writer at Revyuh.com. He has studied Political Science and graduated from Delhi University. He is a Political engineer, fascinated by politics, and traditional businesses. He is also attached to many NGO's in the country and helping poor children to get the basic education. Email: Manish (at) revyuh (dot) com

Nearly 50,000 people died in 2019 in the U.S. from opioid overdoses, in a “crisis” that has worsened during the coronavirus pandemic

Nearly 50,000 people died in 2019 in the U.S. from opioid overdoses, in a “crisis” that has worsened during the covid-19 pandemic and is caused mainly by fentanyl, a synthetic drug 100 times more potent than morphine, the United Nations warned Thursday.

Those 50,000 deaths represent a 100% increase over the figures of a decade ago, in what is described as a true “crisis” in the World Report on Drugs published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

To put that data into perspective, the agency points out that in 2018 some 8,300 people died of overdoses in the European Union, despite having a much larger population. Thus, in proportion to the population, opioids in the US cause 10 times more deaths than in the EU.

In the report, the UNODC states that “North America has seen an increase in deaths from opioid overdoses since the start of the pandemic.”

In addition, it notes that the problem is “evolving” and deaths related to heroin use and non-medical use of pharmaceutical opioids, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, have been declining over the past five years.

“Currently, the crisis is mainly due to overdose deaths attributed to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and its analogues,” the report notes.

The problem, the UNODC explains, is that fentanyl is up to 100 times more potent than morphine, and the amount needed to cause overdose death is much smaller.

The impact of fentanyl is even greater because half of the deaths from heroin, and many from cocaine or methamphetamine, also involve the use of that drug.

The UN indicates that seizures of fentanyl and its derivatives, on the rise for years, skyrocketed globally by 60% in 2019, with large amounts seized in North America.

Although much more other opioids are seized than fentanyl, when counted in daily doses, this synthetic drug accounts for 63% of all pharmaceutical opioids seized in 2019.

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