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Opioid Crisis a Key Culprit in Declining Life Expectancy Rates


08.24.18

WASHINGTON, DC – A new study in a professional medical journal is delivering more somber news about the opioid crisis – the United States is among the list of high-income countries that is seeing lower life expectancy rates. The report cites the opioid crisis as a key contributor. The report also notes that deaths in the U.S. were more concentrated toward younger adults.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, “This concentrated decline among a younger cohort is strongly related to the ‘ongoing, large scale drug overdose epidemic stemming from misuse of prescription opioids, heroin, and fentanyl,’ researchers wrote, noting that compared to other countries, the U.S. actually performs relatively well at older ages.”

Combating the opioid crisis has long been a top priority at Energy and Commerce. Our current efforts have been moving forward on two tracks: advancing collaborative, bipartisan legislative solutions and continuing investigations into several key issues that have contributed to the crisis. Taken together, this is the most significant congressional effort against a single drug crisis in history.

In June, the House passed H.R. 6, the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act by a vote of 396-14. H.R. 6 is a bipartisan bill that will help in our overall efforts to combat the opioid crisis by advancing treatment and recovery initiatives, improving prevention, protecting our communities, and bolstering our efforts to fight deadly illicit synthetic drugs like fentanyl.

With 115 Americans falling victim to this scourge each and every day, time is of the essence. It is imperative that the Senate quickly follow suit, sending H.R. 6 to President Trump’s desk to become law.


US sees drop in life expectancy, largely due to opioid crisis among young adults

The United States is among 14 high-income countries with declining life expectancy rates, according to new research recently published in the British Medical Journal.

The research features findings from two separate observational studies, one pointing to the ongoing opioid crisis in the U.S. as a key contributor to recent declines, and another suggesting the declines in both the U.S. and the United Kingdom transcend the opioid epidemic among diverse populations.

Only four countries included in the first study of 18 high-income nations — Australia, Japan, Denmark and Norway — showed increasing rates for both men and women in 2015.

The other 14, including Australia, Japan, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States all saw declines between 2014 and 2015.

According to the latest figures from the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the life expectancy for men and women in the U.S. in 2016 was 76.1 and 81.1 years.

“This is the first time in recent decades that these many high income countries simultaneously experienced declines in life expectancy for both men and women, and the size of these declines were larger than in the past,” Science Daily reported.

Furthermore, according to the researchers, deaths in the U.S. were concentrated among younger adults in their 20s and 30s, whereas declines in overall life expectancy outside the U.S. focused on people 65 and older.

“The USA now has the lowest life expectancy levels among high income developed countries, and Americans fare poorly across a broad set of ages, health conditions, and causes of death compared with their counterparts in these countries,” according to the study.

This concentrated decline among a younger cohort is strongly related to the “ongoing, large scale drug overdose epidemic stemming from misuse of prescription opioids, heroin, and fentanyl,” researchers wrote, noting that compared to other countries, the U.S. actually performs relatively well at older ages.

Since 2000, the opioid epidemic has claimed more than 300,000 lives and every day, 115 Americans die from prescription opioids and illicit opioids, according to the CDC.

The number of overdose deaths involving opioids in 2016 was five times higher than in 1999.

To read the full story online, click here.

To learn more about Energy and Commerce’s comprehensive efforts to combat the opioid crisis, click here. To learn more about the House’s comprehensive efforts to combat the opioid crisis, click here.

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