Racial disparities observed in Philadelphia’s opioid crisis

Racial disparities observed in Philadelphia’s opioid crisis

The number of fatal overdoses among Black Philadelphians is more than 50 percent higher than it was before the city’s COVID-19 stay-at-home order, according to researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

However, the overdose rate for white Philadelphians has fallen 31 percent over the same period.

In 2019 and through the first three months of 2020, fatal overdoses among Black residents spiked from a monthly average of about 30 to approximately 49 during April through June.

For white residents, the average was approximately 45 fatal overdoses monthly through February 2020, dropping to 35 April through June.

The researchers also compared nonfatal overdoses. For Black residents, nonfatal overdoses were 88 monthly in December 2019 through February, increasing to 111 April through June. Rates for white residents during the same time frames decreased from 120 to 112 monthly.

“The results of this study are sobering,” Dr. Eugenia South, assistant professor of Emergency Medicine and the senior author of this paper, said. “The black community has been hit incredibly hard since the start of the pandemic — both with the illness itself and the social and economic fallout, which includes increased gun violence, job loss, and closure of small businesses.