The United States recorded a record more than 100,000 overdose deaths in a year during the pandemic, and US authorities were alarmed by an unprecedented “crisis”, notably related to the illegal sales of fentanyl, a powerful opioid.
Between April 2020 and April 2021, the country recorded 100,306 fatal overdoses, an increase of 28.5% compared to the same period of the previous year (78,056 deaths), according to provisional figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). ). .
This is the first time that the symbolic bar of 100,000 deaths has been exceeded. This means one death every 5 minutes.
“As we continue to make progress in overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic, we cannot ignore this epidemic of disappearances, which has affected families and communities across the country,” the president said in a statement. Joe Biden.
“It is time to recognize that this crisis seems to get worse, we need everyone on the bridge,” added Health Minister Xavier Becerra at a press conference.
The pandemic has further accelerated a phenomenon that was already on the rise in the past, for example by increasing the isolation of certain populations, according to experts.
– Counterfeit pills –
“These overdoses are largely driven by synthetic opiates, primarily illegally manufactured fentanyl,” CDC official Deb Houry told reporters.
Overdoses related to methamphetamine, also a highly addictive stimulant, or cocaine have also increased.
A DEA agent in the United States examines bags containing fentanyl, a powerful pain reliever that is also used as a drug, on October 8, 2019 in New York (AFP / Archives – Don EMMERT)
“Drug traffickers and their networks are flooding our neighborhoods with fentanyl and methamphetamine in the form of fake pills,” warned Anne Milgram, director of the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
Mexican cartels, which use chemicals imported from China, trick consumers into buying approved and prescription drugs online, when in fact they are highly dangerous counterfeit products, he said.
The DEA seized “more than 14 million counterfeit pills this year, a number that continues to grow dramatically each year,” he said. “We find these deadly drugs in every state” of America.
– Access to naloxone –
“My administration is committed to doing everything in its power to combat addiction and end this overdose epidemic,” promised Joe Biden.
The United States government has announced that it wants to improve prevention, as well as access to naloxone, an antidote capable of countering an overdose.
The federal executive will encourage states to ensure that naloxone is available in prisons or schools, for example, or that it is fully covered by health insurance.
“I believe that no one should die of an overdose simply because of a lack of access to naloxone,” said Rahul Gupta, director of the executive office in charge of the national drug control strategy. “But sadly, this is happening across the country right now.”
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