In Massachusetts, as Elsewhere, It’s the Prohibition, Not the Prescriptions

Related articles

Dr. Jeffrey Singer of the Cato Institute and a member of the board of scientific advisors at ACSH has written a piece that should deliver a devastating blow to those who maintain the fallacy that prescription opioids are responsible for the so-called "opioid crisis." Although this trend is seen nationwide, nowhere is this more evident than in Massachusetts, where fentanyl is found in the blood of 91% of overdose victims — six times that of drugs like hydrocodone or oxycodone. A must-read.

Earlier this month, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health released Data Brief: Opioid‐​Related Overdose Deaths Among Massachusetts Residents. The report found that opioid‐​related overdose deaths remained essentially unchanged at roughly 2,000 per year since 2016. From 2001 thru 2010 the annual overdose rate was relatively stable and then began to accelerate in 2011. (Figure 1 and Figure 2 of the Data Brief).

While the overdose rate was 1 percent less in 2019 than in 2016, and 1 percent greater in 2020 than in 2019, neither change was statistically significant.

As with other states, the opioid dispensing rate per 100 persons has come down dramatically over time. Nationally, the overall rate dropped by roughly 43 percent, to 46.7 per 100 persons in 2019, from its peak of 81.2 per 100 persons in 2012. In Massachusetts, prescription opioids dispensed per 100 persons peaked in 2009 at 68.9 per 100 persons and dropped by 49 percent to 35.4 per 100 persons in 2019. From 2014 thru 2019 alone, the rate in the Commonwealth dropped 41 percent, from 59.6 to 35.4 per 100 persons.

# Reprinted with permission. The entire original article can be found here.