Fentanyl is deadly. The United States is currently undergoing a massive national drug crisis, one that it is losing badly. Deaths related to the use of fentanyl have skyrocketed 190% in Nashville, Tennessee over the last two years.
In 2016, there were 60 deaths total relating to the use of fentanyl; in 2018 there were 174 deaths. Further, in 2019, there are no indications that the numbers will decline anytime soon, as 15 people have already died in the first three months of the year.
According to Brian Todd who works for the Metro Public Health Department, all of the deaths, of course, are a combination of drugs, but fentanyl is the underlying common denominator.
“All of these involved Fentanyl, but many involved multiple drugs, so the cause of death was often acute combined drug toxicity.”
Cheatham County, according to EMS director Danny Schaeffer, saw an increase of 400% in fentanyl-related deaths. In 2016, two people died as a result of the common denominator; however, in 2018, ten had passed.
“We continue to respond to the overdose calls and support programs for people who are addicts of prescription medications and street drugs. Yes. these numbers are actual people, and it’s hard for us to keep going to people’s families and telling them their loved ones are dead because they overdosed.”
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Across the state, in 2016 1,186 persons died as a result of an opioid-related overdose, which is a rate of 18% per 100,000 persons. The staggering number is higher than the national average which sits at 13.3% per 100,000 persons.
The amount of persons who died because of an opioid-related overdose has increased from 10.1% in 2010 and from 1.6% in 1999. However, the drug crisis is not explicitly related to drugs that are sold on the street; rather, it is also the fault of Big Pharma companies.
The crisis is so vast that the State of Tennessee is attempting to intervene on behalf of the taxpayer to hold Big Pharma accountable for its role in the epidemic.
One company specifically, who is under scrutiny, is Purdue Pharma, the makers of OxyContin. In February, the drug company attempted to side-step a lawsuit by the Tennessee Attorney General, because they claimed that the State has no right to blame the company for the crisis.
In response, Knox County Circuit Judge Kristi Davis rejected the bid by Purdue Pharma, to allow for the State to pursue a lawsuit against the behemoth drug company.
Tennesseans are grappling with a crisis as is the rest of the country when it comes to opioid-related overdoses. However, the crisis is showing no signs of slowing anytime soon.