70,237 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States in 2017 and opioids were involved in 47,600 of those deaths (67.8%).1 Ohio had the second highest rate of opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2017, with 4,293 reported deaths (39.2 deaths per 100,000 persons) compared to the average national rate of 14.6 deaths per 100,000 persons.2
The states with the highest rates of death in 2017 due to drug overdose were West Virginia (57.8 per 100,000), Ohio (46.3 per 100,000), Pennsylvania (44.3 per 100,000), the District of Columbia (44.0 per 100,000), and Kentucky (37.2 per 100,000).1
The continual influx of newer synthetic opioids has proven a challenge to physicians, healthcare professionals, forensic scientists, and medical examiners in clinical and forensic settings. A brief overview of opioid pharmacology, history and regional trends will be presented as well as the details of how one synthetic opioid, new to Ohio in 2016, was discovered and dealt with by legislative means.
After attending this presentation, attendees will:
1. Recognize the nature of opioids as psychoactive substances
2. Understand how the rapid introduction of synthetic opioids in the illicit drug market makes identification difficult for clinical and forensic laboratories.
1.Scholl L, Seth P, Kariisa M, Wilson N, Baldwin G. Drug and Opioid-Involved Overdose Deaths – United States, 2013-2017. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. ePub: 21 December 2018.
2.National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Ohio Opioid Summary - March 2019