- Governor Charlie Baker | Lt. Governor Karyn Polito
- Marylou Sudders, HHS Secretary
- Monica Bharel, MD, MPH, DPH Commissioner
- Governor's Press Office
BOSTON — Opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts declined by an estimated 10 percent in the first nine months of this year compared to the first nine months of 2016, according to the third quarterly opioid-related overdose deaths report of 2017 released today by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH). It is the second consecutive quarterly report estimating a decline in the number of opioid-related overdose deaths. The report also found that the percentage of opioid-related overdoses that have resulted in deaths has decreased year over year.
"This new report shows some trend lines that are moving in the right direction as we work to fight the opioid and heroin epidemic in Massachusetts, but there are still too many people dying from overdoses,’’ said Governor Charlie Baker. "Our administration will continue efforts to combat this public health epidemic that is devastating families in every corner of the Commonwealth, and looks forward to introducing new proposals in the near future and working with the Legislature to pass meaningful reform to strengthen our efforts from prevention to recovery.”
According to the report, fentanyl continues to be a major factor fueling the opioid crisis. The rate of fentanyl present in the toxicology of opioid-related overdose deaths continues to rise, reaching 81 percent this year, while the rate of prescription opioids and heroin present in opioid-related overdose deaths continues to decline.
"Stemming the tide of this opioid epidemic is a massive undertaking and it will take time to address the suffering that underlies addictions,’’ said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. "We continue to focus on a strong public health approach of prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery and to strengthen the treatment system.’’
Selected Findings from the 2017 Q3 Report on Opioid-Related Deaths
Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH, said having access to timely data provided in the quarterly reports allows for a more immediate public health response to the epidemic. ``The data in these quarterly reports, and in our other reports, help us to understand the arc of this epidemic and respond effectively to the areas of the greatest need.’’
Since the beginning of the opioid epidemic, the Baker-Polito Administration has increased annual spending for substance misuse prevention and treatment by 50 percent not including MassHealth initiatives that expand access to residential treatment and evidence-based care for the state’s most vulnerable populations.
Massachusetts led the nation in limiting first-time opioid prescriptions to seven days and revamped its prescription monitoring system, requiring prescribers to use the Massachusetts Prescription Awareness Tool (MassPAT) before writing a Schedule II or III opioid prescription.
The state also launched first-in-the-nation core competencies requiring students graduating from the state’s medical, dental, nursing, and social work schools to receive training to prevent and treat substance misuse.
In addition, the state has added more than 600 adult substance use disorder treatment beds since January 2015 and widely expanded the availability of naloxone, the overdose reversal drug.
For more information on the Commonwealth’s response to the opioid epidemic as well as links to the latest data, visit www.mass.gov/opioidresponse. To get help for a substance use disorder, visit www.helplinema.org, or call the Massachusetts Substance Use Helpline at 800-327-5050.