Oklahoma Republicans blame Biden for fentanyl push

Oklahoma Republicans blame Biden for fentanyl push
Oklahoma Republicans blame Biden for fentanyl push

CLAIM: Fentanyl is the leading cause of death among adults in the United States

FACTS: Fentanyl overdose deaths, while high, are not the leading cause of death among all adults in the United States, experts say. Heart disease and cancer are killing more people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Social media users, including some Republican lawmakers, have claimed the synthetic opioid is the No. 1 killer of adults in the United States. “Fentanyl is the leading cause of death in American adults,” wrote Rep. Beth Van Duyne, R-Texas. on Twitter. “Until @POTUS secures our southern border, this crisis will only get worse.” The congresswoman’s tweet was also shared by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

That’s not the case, according to experts and CDC data. “It’s absolutely not the leading cause of death for all adults,” said Kenneth Leonard, director of the University at Buffalo Clinical and Research Institute on Addictions. “I wouldn’t minimize the fentanyl problem, but it’s certainly hard to say it’s the leading cause of death,” said Lewis Nelson, professor of pharmacology, physiology and neuroscience at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

That distinction goes to heart disease and cancer, said Dan Ciccarone, professor of family and community medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. About 71,000 people died from an overdose of synthetic opioids like fentanyl in 2021, compared to nearly 58,000 in 2020, according to the CDC. By comparison, the CDC estimates that in 2020 nearly 700,000 people died from heart disease, about 600,000 from cancer, and about 350,000 from COVID-19.

Spokespersons for McCarthy did not respond to the AP’s request for comment. Andrea Coker, spokesperson for Van Duyne, wrote in an email that while heart disease may be the leading cause of death in older American adults, the “cdc says fentanyl is the leading cause of death in Americans 18 to 45”. As part of its response, Coker provided a link to an analysis conducted by the nonprofit Ohio Families Against Fentanyl which determined that fentanyl was the leading killer of people aged 18-45 in 2019. and 2020. The group analyzed publicly available CDC data comparing synthetic opioid deaths to other causes of death in recent years, according to spokeswoman Moira Muntz.

The CDC has not verified that fentanyl is the leading killer among people in this age group, said Jeff Lancashire, spokesman for the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. The agency uses death certificates to determine the leading causes of death in the United States. In its datasets, fentanyl deaths are included in a broader category of deaths attributed to synthetic opioids. Synthetic opioids, which include drugs like fentanyl and tramadol, are different from natural opioids, like morphine, and semi-synthetic opioids, like oxycodone, according to the CDC. While fentanyl accounts for the majority of synthetic opioid-related deaths, the CDC lacks data on deaths caused specifically by fentanyl, Lancashire said.

Drug overdose deaths fall into four different cause-of-death categories, although the majority fall into the “accidental” category. The others are classified as suicides, homicides or undetermined. According to preliminary data from 2021, accidents were the leading cause of death among 18-45 year olds, with unintentional synthetic opioid overdoses accounting for less than half of those deaths, Lancashire wrote. “Fentanyl alone does not appear to be the leading cause of death in 18-45 year olds and is certainly NOT the leading cause of death in all adults,” he wrote. “However, we don’t break down the leading causes so that we can rank fentanyl anywhere.”

– Associated Press writer Josh Kelety in Phoenix contributed to this report.

. Republicans Oklahoma blame Biden for push fentanyl Government politics

. Oklahoma Republicans blame Biden fentanyl push

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