More than 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2017, according to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a new record.
The CDC recorded a 6.6 percent increase in fatal drug overdoses from 2016, but noted that the preliminary numbers likely underestimate the final death toll.
More than 40,000 people died from opioid overdoses last year, and nearly 30,000 people died from overdoses of synthetic opioids, like fentanyl. The overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids rose sharply from 2016, while deaths from heroin, prescription opioid pills and methadone fell, the CDC said.
Controls on prescription opioids have succeeded in flattening the once-exponential growth of legal opioids, but an influx of illicit opioids has moved into the market to meet demand.
While the Department of Health and Human Services has declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency, skeptics have said few solutions have actually come out of the White House or Congress.
States are using grant money made available through the 21st Century Cures Act, which was signed into law in 2016, to fight the epidemic. But President Trump has not allocated additional resources in the battle.
Earlier this summer, the House passed a massive package of opioid-related bills, but the Senate has yet to take it up. While some Democrats voted for the legislation, others opposed it for not going far enough and for not containing guaranteed funding.