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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

The front-runners for Biden's Supreme Court pick

Judge Kentaji Brown Jackson (left) and Justice Leondra Kruger (right) Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images and Lonnie Tague, US Department of Justice

Two highly accomplished Black female judges — Ketanji Brown Jackson, a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals; and Leondra Kruger, a justice on the California Supreme Court — are seen as the early front-runners to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

The big picture: Jackson is a powerful federal judge with a record that progressives feel they can trust. Kruger was a highly regarded litigator and has carved out a reputation for working well with conservative judges.

Fed: Rate hikes are near

The Federal Reserve's headquarters building. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The Federal Reserve is on track to raise its main target interest rate in mid-March, as Chair Jerome Powell pledged to be "humble and nimble" in adapting policy to a fast-changing economy.

Why it matters: Fed leaders are looking to choke off inflation by raising interest rates in the near future, but keeping its options open for how fast and far the effort will go.

How long it’s taken to confirm Supreme Court justices

Expand chart
Data: Axios research, U.S. Supreme Court, Supreme Court Historical Society; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

It takes a U.S. president an average of 70 days from the date a Supreme Court seat is vacated to nominate a replacement, according to data from the Supreme Court Historical Society.

Why it matters: With news outlets reporting liberal Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer's plans to retire, Democrats will be looking to confirm President Biden's nominee with enough time to refocus the national political debate ahead of the midterms.