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Opioid overdose crisis: time for a radical rethink

The opioid epidemic is one of the worst public health disasters affecting the USA and Canada. Over the past two decades, nearly 600 000 people have died from an opioid overdose in these two countries, and an estimated 1·2 million people could die from opioid overdoses by 2029. The opioid crisis, which involves both prescribed opioids such as oxycodone and illicit drugs such as heroin, has reached new heights amid the pandemic. Against this backdrop, the Stanford–Lancet Commission on the opioid epidemic in North America, published on Feb 5, maps out an action plan to de-escalate the crisis. Although North America remains the centre of the opioid crisis, opioid use is an increasing public health concern in the UK, with almost half of all fatal drug poisonings involving opiates such as heroin and morphine. Furthermore, between 1998 and 2016, opioid prescriptions increased by 34% in England (and by 127% when accounting for the total oral morphine equivalency), while opioid-related hospitalisations rose by 48·9% between 2008 and 2018, with an estimated health-care cost of £137 million…

Auteur(s) : The Lancet Public Health (editorial)