The drug epidemic in America is increasingly fueled by synthetic opioids like fentanyl, which overtook heroin as the deadliest substance in the U.S. in 2016.
The National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released the first preliminary federal report, giving an accounting of drug overdose deaths in 2016. The CDC estimates that drug deaths rose by more than 22 percent in 2016, killing 64,070 Americans. Opioid deaths rose from 33,000 in 2015 to nearly 50,000 in 2016, driven primarily by fentanyl, a painkiller roughly 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, reports The New York Times.
Synthetic opioids, including fentanyl and its analogs, claimed roughly 20,100 lives in 2016, up from 9,945.