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Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Drug Overdose Deaths in the US During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Educational Objective
To identify the key insights or developments described in this article
1 Credit CME

Recent reports highlighted racial and ethnic differences in US drug overdose deaths from 1999 to 2020.1,2 Overdose deaths increased 37.2% from February 2020 to August 2021 and were predominantly associated with synthetic opioids other than methadone (primarily fentanyl or analogs) and methamphetamine.3,4 Yet data are lacking regarding racial and ethnic disparities in overdose death rates within specific sex-age combinations before and during the COVID-19 pandemic (since March 2020).

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CME Disclosure Statement: Unless noted, all individuals in control of content reported no relevant financial relationships. If applicable, all relevant financial relationships have been mitigated.

Article Information

Accepted for Publication: August 2, 2022.

Published: September 20, 2022. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.32314

Open Access: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the CC-BY License. © 2022 Han B et al. JAMA Network Open.

Corresponding Author: Nora D. Volkow, MD, 301 N Stonestreet Ave, 3WFN Room 09D20, MSC 6025, Bethesda, MD 20892 (nvolkow@nida.nih.gov).

Author Contributions: Dr Han had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

Concept and design: Han, Einstein, Jones, Compton, Volkow.

Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: Han, Cotto, Compton, Volkow.

Drafting of the manuscript: Han, Cotto, Volkow.

Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: Han, Einstein, Jones, Compton, Volkow.

Statistical analysis: Han.

Administrative, technical, or material support: Einstein, Jones, Cotto, Volkow.

Supervision: Volkow.

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Compton reported long-term stock holdings with General Electric Co, 3M Companies, and Pfizer Inc outside the submitted work. No other disclosures were reported.

Funding/Support: This study was sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Role of the Funder/Sponsor: The sponsors had a role in the review and approval of the manuscript. The sponsors had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

Disclaimer: The findings and conclusions of this study are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the US Department of Health and Human Services.

References
1.
Friedman  JR , Hansen  H .  Evaluation of increases in drug overdose mortality rates in the US by race and ethnicity before and during the Covid-19 pandemic.   JAMA Psychiatry. 2022;79(4):379-381. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2022.0004 PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
2.
Humphreys  K , Shover  CL , Andrews  CM ,  et al.  Responding to the opioid crisis in North America and beyond: recommendations of the Stanford-Lancet Commission.   Lancet. 2022;399(10324):555-604. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(21)02252-2 PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
3.
Ahmad  FB , Rossen  LM , Sutton  P .  Provisional drug overdose death counts. National Center for Health Statistics. 2021. Accessed July 31, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/drug-overdose-data.htm
4.
Han  B , Cotto  J , Etz  K , Einstein  EB , Compton  WM , Volkow  ND .  Methamphetamine overdose deaths in the US by sex and race and ethnicity.   JAMA Psychiatry. 2021;78(5):564-567. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2020.4321 PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
5.
Arias  E , Heron  M , Hakes  J ; National Center for Health Statistics; US Census Bureau.  The validity of race and Hispanic-origin reporting on death certificates in the United States: an update.   Vital Health Stat 2. 2016;172(172):1-21.PubMedGoogle Scholar
6.
Furr-Holden  D , Milam  AJ , Wang  L , Sadler  R .  African Americans now outpace Whites in opioid-involved overdose deaths: a comparison of temporal trends from 1999 to 2018.   Addiction. 2021;116(3):677-683. doi:10.1111/add.15233 PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
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