EIS officers present prescription drug overdose research investigation findings
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today continued its 63rd Annual Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Conference, which focuses on key health initiatives such as the growing epidemic of deaths from prescription drug overdose (PDO). This week-long event, held through today, highlights the work of its current EIS officers or “disease detectives” and welcomes the incoming class of officers. More details about the PDO presentations are available below.
The United States is in the midst of a PDO epidemic. Every day, more than 60 Americans die from PDO. Prescription drugs are now involved in more overdose deaths than heroin and cocaine combined.
The conference presentations on PDO include:
Novel, Illicit Fentanyl-Analog Causes 14 Overdose Deaths: U.S. opioid overdose deaths quadrupled between 1999 and 2010. The introduction of more potent illicit opioids increases overdose risk. When Rhode Island health officials found that a cluster of overdose deaths were due to a new designer opioid four times more potent than heroin– acetyl fentanyl – they asked CDC to investigate. EIS officer Matthew Lozier’s team led the outbreak investigation that linked the drug to 14 deaths over three months. Since then at least three states have identified acetyl fentanyl as the culprit in overdose deaths. This investigation increased awareness of laboratory capacity to identify acetyl fentanyl nationally. On February 7, SAMHSA issued an Advisory to the treatment community on the danger of heroin contaminated with fentanyl and what can be done to save lives.
Assessing Risk Factors Associated with Prescription Opioid Overdose Deaths: In 2013, members of the National Association of Medical Examiners noted reports of breathing abnormalities among people who died of drug overdose. CDC disease detectives led by Benjamin Levy reviewed all unintentional overdose deaths registered in New Mexico in 2012. They found that nearly a third of deaths had been witnessed by family or friends, and that a third of these witnessed overdose deaths involved recognizable breathing abnormalities. Recognition of overdose symptoms can lead to early intervention, particularly as easy-to-use naloxone rescue becomes more widely available.
The FY 2015 President’s Budget proposes a total of $26 million in the CDC and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to address prescription drug misuse, abuse, and overdose. Within SAMHSA, this collaborative effort will invest $10 million in grants to states to enhance, implement, and evaluate strategies to prevent prescription drug misuse and abuse, and to improve collaboration on the risks of overprescribing and the use of monitoring systems between states’ public health and education authorities, and pharmaceutical and medical communities. CDC’s $16 million proposal would allow the CDC to provide science and resources to states to address the key drivers of the epidemic: high-risk prescribing and high-risk prescription drug use.
The CDC has developed a digital press kit, filled with high resolution images, infographics, multimedia and quotes from experts on the EIS Conference. Media wishing to attend the EIS conference should RSVP to CDC Media Relations, firstname.lastname@example.org or (404) 639-3286.