Top Ten Drugs Linked to Overdoses


Fentanyl, heroin, hydrocodone, and methamphetamine among the most frequently mentioned drugs connected to overdoses, according to a new report from the CDC.

Fentanyl topped the list of the the 10 most frequently mentioned drugs cited as in connection with drug overdoses, according to a new report from the CDC.

Between 2011 and 2016 fentanyl, heroin, hydrocodone, methadone, morphine, oxycodone, alprazolam, diazepam, cocaine, and methamphetamine were the leading drugs cited, often used in combination with each other, according to the report, published in National Vital Statistics.

Officials from various health agencies linked data from the 2011—2016 National Vital Statistics System–Mortality files with electronic files containing literal text information from death certificates.

The researchers noted a change in the leading cause of overdose related deaths between 2011 and 2016, moving from oxycodone in 2011 to fentanyl in 2016. The report noted that "the rate of drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl and fentanyl analogs doubled each year from 2013 through 2016, from 0.6 per 100,000 in 2013 to 1.3 in 2014, 2.6 in 2015, and 5.9 in 2016."

Study limitations included the variability in reporting of the drugs that are cited in these reports, and the study authors noted that this limitation illustrates the importance of clear reporting on these issues so that health officals can properly "identify deaths involving newly approved prescription drugs and new substances of abuse," and design appropriate intervention strategies in response.


Hedegaard H, Bastian BA, Trinidad JP, et al. Drugs Most Frequently Involved in Drug Overdose Deaths: United States, 2011—2016. NVSS. 2018; 67(9):1-14.

This article was originally published by Pharmacy Times.

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