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A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study shows the rate of fatal drug overdoses has more than doubled since 1999. Those between 55 and 64 years of age were the hardest hit. Rates increased for both males and females and increased across all age groups.

The 2015 rate for fatal drug overdoses is higher than deaths from suicides (13.4 deaths per 100,000) car accidents (11.1 deaths per 100,000) and firearms:

Expand chart
Data: Centers for Disease Control; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

Why this matters: The overall number of opioid overuse deaths quadrupled during the same time period, and in 2015 opioids killed more than 33,000 people — higher than ever before. States that Trump won like West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio were hardest hit by fatal drug overdoses in 2015. Trump held a meeting in Feb. at the White House on how to respond to the opioid epidemic.

A key takeaway: The portion of fatal drug overdoses due to more lethal drugs is increasing, and it coincides with new CDC restrictions on prescribing pain meds (like semisynthetic opioids morphine or oxycodone) issued last year, per STAT. In sum, users had to turn to other drugs, like heroin, to feed their addiction.

  • The portion of fatal overdoses due to heroin tripled from 8 percent in 2010 to 25 percent in 2015
  • The portion due to synthetic opioids (like fentanyl) jumped from 8 percent to 18 percent. This is a big deal because synthetic opioids can be 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin, which puts emergency rooms at risk of running out of antidotes to treat overdoses

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

3 hours ago - World

France recalls ambassadors from U.S. and Australia over submarine deal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L), French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C), and French ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

France has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia after both countries blindsided their French allies with a new military pact and submarine contract, the French Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The backstory: While sealing an agreement with the U.S. and U.K. to acquire nuclear submarines, Australia ripped up an existing $90 billion submarine deal with France. That led senior French officials to accuse the U.S. of a "stab in the back."

Updated 3 hours ago - World

In reversal, Pentagon now says drone strike killed 10 Afghan civilians

Caskets for the dead are carried towards the gravesite as relatives and friends attend a mass funeral for members of a family that is said to have been killed in a U.S. drone airstrike, in Kabul on Aug. 30. Photo: Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A U.S. drone strike launched on Aug. 29 killed 10 civilians in Afghanistan, including seven children, rather than the Islamic State extremists the Biden administration claimed it targeted, the Pentagon said Friday.

Why it matters: U.S. Central Command said at the time that officials "know" the drone strike "disrupted an imminent ISIS-K threat" to Kabul's airport, and that they were "confident we successfully hit the target."