The Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s recently released quarterly opioid surveillance report determined the rate of opioid-related overdose deaths fell an estimated 5 percent from its peak in 2016.
The decline occurred despite the increased presence of the synthetic opioid fentanyl as a driver of opioid-related overdose deaths.
“This report demonstrates that focused investments in substance misuse are having an impact, but there is still a lot of work to do to curb the opioid epidemic in our communities,” Gov. Charlie Baker said. “We are encouraged by the expanded use of the prescription monitoring program and continued reduction of new prescriptions, and remain committed to making new investments in prevention, education, treatment, and recovery for individuals and families across the Commonwealth.”
The analysis revealed the opioid-related overdose death rate was 29 per 100,000 people last year, compared to 30.5 per 100,000 people in 2016.
Preliminary data showed there were 2,023 confirmed and estimated opioid-related overdose deaths in 2019, while there were 2,097 confirmed opioid-related overdose deaths for the same period in 2016.
“Behind every statistic in each of these quarterly reports is a person, a family, and a community that has been impacted by this crisis,” Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said. “Our administration remains committed to working with all stakeholders to continue to provide the resources and supports needed to address the opioid epidemic across the Commonwealth.”
Authorities acknowledged while the presence of fentanyl in the toxicology of opioid-related overdose deaths remains high at 93 percent from January to September 2019, the rate of heroin or likely heroin present in opioid-related overdose deaths has continued to decline since 2014.