More African-Americans, Hispanics are dying of fentanyl overdoses

An increasing number of African-Americans are dying from fentanyl overdoses — what has long been pegged as a problem primarily for white communities, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The  deadliest drug in America claimed 18,335 lives in 2016, up drastically from 1,663 in 2011.

Non-Hispanic white people remain most affected by overall fentanyl overdoses,  according to the analysis. African-Americans saw the sharpest increase in deaths, rising 140.6 percent each year. Hispanics experienced a jump of 118.3 percent annually.

"These are pretty astounding numbers in terms of the percentage increase per year," lead CDC researcher Merianne Spencer  told HealthDay News.

Overdoses of fentanyl deaths for men also spiked from 2013 to 2016 at 2.8 times the rate for women.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid prescribed to treat pain. A type of fentanyl called Transmucosal Immediate-Release Fentanyl, or TIRF, is 100 times more powerful than morphine.

Most overdoses are linked to illegally-made fentanyl that is often mixed with heroin, cocaine or other drugs, the  CDC notes.


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