Science and Tech


'Unspecified' Overdoses Could Add To Opioid Epidemic Death Toll

New research suggests the deaths in the opioid epidemic could have been undercounted.
Posted at 10:14 PM, Jun 27, 2018

New research suggests the death toll in the opioid epidemic could be much higher than originally thought.

The University of Pittsburgh's school of public health published a report that claims some unintentional overdose deaths are classified as "unspecified," meaning they're never assigned to a specific drug. Researchers say that means as many as 70,000 people died from opioid overdoses between 1999 to 2015 but were not included in data on the opioid crisis.

Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Alabama, Indiana and Mississippi had the highest rates of unspecified overdose deaths, all at more than 35 percent. Researchers said more than 11,000 of Pennsylvania's unspecified overdose deaths could be reclassified as opioid deaths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says an average of 115 Americans die each day from opioid overdose.