PolitiFact: Growing number of opioid and heroin deaths

Opioid-related overdoses frequent the news
Posted at 7:28 PM, Apr 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-19 20:28:46-04

The growing number of people dying from heroin or prescription painkillers is in the news just about every day.

It's been on Brad Schimel's radar as Attorney General and a former county prosecutor, but did he recently overstate the prescription pain killer crisis with this line?
"Deaths in America from prescription painkillers exceed the number of deaths from heroin and cocaine combined," said Dave Umhoefer at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Schimel’s source was the CDC or Centers for Disease Control. PolitiFact Wisconsin found that his 2008 numbers were accurate but outdated. The trend has reversed.

"Since then the number of heroin deaths have surged, " Umhoefer said. "To the point where the CDC now says that deaths from heroin and cocaine actually out number the prescriptions pain killer deaths."
Another twist is how the CDC now defines prescription opioids because law enforcement reports suggested many of the deaths involving fentanyl were from the non-prescription street version of the drug.
"It's a prescription but it’s also made and sold illegally on the street so the CDC has changed the way it counts," Umhoefer said.
PolitiFact Wisconsin rated Schimel's claim Half True.

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