Study: U.S. opioid deaths likely under-reported

NEW YORK (CNN) – The latest government numbers show that drug overdose deaths in 2016 continued to climb, despite ongoing efforts to stem the overdose epidemic.

The age-adjusted quarterly death rate for drug overdoses increased by more than 20-percent between the first quarter of 2015 and the third quarter of 2016. The majority of those overdoses are from opioids.

Also, new data indicates that the number of opioid-related deaths may be under-reported. Between 2000 and 2015, the number of overdose deaths in the United States rose more than 137-percent. More than half a million people died from drug overdoses during that time.

Sen. Markey at town hall: State’s opioid epidemic biggest concern

According to the CDC, prescription opioids are a driving factor in the increase. Across the country, 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.

A new study finds that many opioid-related overdoses are under-reported and the scope of the problem may be much worse.

Researchers found that 20-to-25-percent of overdose death certificates did not have any specific drug listed as a cause, suggesting that estimates could be significantly off.

They believe the death rate from opioids is 24-percent higher than previously estimated.

The study’s lead author says data on drug overdose deaths should be improved so that authorities can better understand the opioid crisis and respond effectively.

Related Stories: