Accidental Opioid Overdoses Surpass Motor Vehicle Deaths in US: Expert Available

18-Jan-2019 12:05 PM EST

Stony Brook Medicine

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The National Safety Council’s new analysis shows the odds of dying from an accidental opioid-related overdose now surpasses the odds of dying from a motor vehicle accident.

Stony Brook Medicine's Dr. Kevin Zacharoff is a chronic pain and opioid abuse expert and member of the Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Products Advisory Committee for the Food and Drug Administration. He is also a Board Certified Anesthesiologist with more than 30 years of clinical practice experience in Anesthesiology and Pain medicine. Dr. Zacharoff says:

  • To many, this statistic seems to be new information. In fact, this is a trend we have been seeing sweep across many states as far back as 2008. With at least 30 states in the country having already seen this trend taking place, it is sadly not surprising that this has now become a nation-wide statistic.
  • There are two very important things to consider when we look at these national trends. First, is that even though an overdose death is labeled an “opioid-related overdose death” when an opioid is found to be involved, in most cases, there are more substances than just opioids in the decedent’s system contributing to the fatal outcome. Second, is that the very same CDC data report shows that illicit fentanyl-class drugs are rapidly becoming or have become the leading culprit(s) of opioid-related overdose deaths across the nation.
  • We need to employ other non-healthcare-related approaches to change this fatal tide; using “seat-belt like approaches” including targeted law-enforcement, aggressive public education programs targeting adults, adolescents, and children about the potential hazards of drug abuse in the days of fentanyl and other purely synthetic drugs like it, and conveying the notion that there are many facets to the “opioid epidemic” than we may realize. Above all, we need to remember that we cannot and should not deny appropriate patients access to medications like opioid analgesics when they are appropriate.

Dr. Zacharoff is available for interview by phone, Skype or live via the VideoLink Studio located on the Stony Brook University campus. To schedule an interview with him, contact Cassandra Huneke at 631 572-0569 or cassandra.huneke@stonybrookmedicine.edu.

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