Fentanyl now the leading cause of overdose deaths

WASHINGTON (BY: DAN VERGANO, BUZZFEED.com) – Fentanyl and other synthetic opioid painkillers are now the leading cause of overdose deaths nationwide, killing more than 21,000 people last year, according to provisional CDC data.

“Shocking numbers,” epidemiologist Daniel Ciccarone of the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine told BuzzFeed News. “I see only growing problems in my field work,” he added, with fentanyl becoming the new normal for heroin buyers in places like Chicago and Charleston, West Virginia.

The US is in the midst of an epidemic of drug overdose deaths, with nearly 65,000 people killed by heroin, cocaine, and prescription painkillers in 2016, a 21% jump from a year earlier. That rise was first reported by Mother Jones in September.

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