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Vials of heroin and fentanyl. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Reducing prescription opioid misuse will only moderately lower the number of opioid overdose deaths over the next few years, a new report in the Journal of the American Medical Association found.

By the numbers: The study projected that under the status quo, opioid overdose deaths would rise from 33,100 in 2015 to 81,700 in 2025. Between 2016 and 2025, 700,400 people will die from an opioid overdose, it estimates, and 80% of these deaths will be attributable to illicit opioids.

  • Lowering the amount of prescription opioid misuse from 2015 levels would only decrease overdose deaths by 3–5.3%, it found.

My thought bubble: As depressing as this is, it checks out. The opioid epidemic has evolved from being mostly about prescription opioids to being driven by heroin and fentanyl, which are much more potent than drugs like OxyContin.

  • While policy interventions like prescription drug monitoring programs are still important, we have to do vastly more than that to make a sizable dent in the opioid death rate.

Go deeper ... The border's deadliest threat: opioids

Go deeper

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Kevin McCarthy's rude awakening

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Kevin McCarthy is learning you can get torched when you try to make everyone happy, especially after an insurrection.

Why it matters: The House Republican leader had been hoping to use this year to build toward taking the majority in 2022, but his efforts to bridge intra-party divisiveness over the Capitol siege have him taking heat from every direction, eroding his stature both with the public and within his party.

The next big political war: redistricting

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democrats are preparing a mix of tech and legal strategies to combat expected gerrymandering by Republicans, who are planning to go on legal offense themselves.

Why it matters: Democrats failed to regain a single state legislature on Election Day, while Republicans upped their control to 30 states' Houses and Senates. In the majority of states, legislatures draw new congressional district lines, which can boost a party's candidates for the next decade.