Under Raimondo Opioid Deaths in RI Continue to Increase, According to New CDC Data

Saturday, December 22, 2018

 

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Governor Gina Raimondo

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control released new data that shows that the number of Rhode Islanders who died from opioid overdoses increased from 2016 to 2017.

The new data unveiled is a blow Governor Gina Raimondo and RI's efforts to lower the death rate.  Now entering her fifth year in office, the opioids death rate is increasing.

According to the CDC data, RI’s death rate by opioids increased by 0.2 percent. And in other data released by the CDC, Rhode Island ranked 11th highest for increase in age-adjusted rates of drug overdose deaths and deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone. SEE TABLE BELOW

The CDC said, “Drug overdose and opioid-involved deaths are a critical public health issue. It is important for CDC to share these data so states and communities have the information needed to inform their prevention activities and better respond,” said the report’s lead author and epidemiologist Lawrence Scholl, Ph.D., National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. 

Raimondo refused comment no the new data. And the RI Department of Health said that the agency has a different tracking, “While the national rate of overdose deaths increased from 2016 to 2017, Rhode Island saw a modest decrease during this time period, and we remain on this downward trajectory in 2018.”

Raimondo, Rhode Island, and National Data

Raimondo has claimed that Rhode Island is at the cutting edge in the battle against opioid overdoses. Raimondo was quoted in Politico trumpeting the state’s success, especially as it relates to the prison population.

“We’re the only state in America that has a state-supported, state-funded, full range of medically assisted treatment in the prisons,” Raimondo told a gathering of Rhode Island public health professionals at the Community Overdose Engagement Summit in Warwick, R.I., in June. “And it is working.”

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Billionaire Bloomberg recently visited with Raimondo in RI

More recently she hosted billionaire media mogul Michael Bloomberg — a potential 2020 Presidential candidate -- to discuss the success of RI’s efforts, especially a program at the Adult Correctional Institute.

While Raimondo is claiming success, some of the top advocates fighting the spread of opioids have criticized Raimondo for her ties to opioid industry related campaign donations.

Two leading activists — who gained national attention when their protest involving an 800 pound heroin spoon outside OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma ended in an arrest this past summer — are calling out Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo for keeping nearly $12,500 in contributions from Purdue scion Jonathan Sackler and his wife Mary Corson for their role in the national opioid epidemic. 

“So it’s okay to take money from them but not from Pablo Escobar or El Chapo in Mexico? It’s the same thing — it’s probably worse, because they have sugar coated it,” said Alvarez on GoLocal LIVE in September (See video interviews here). “Have they become so cynical and weak to the point where some Americans have become complacent to this?”

Raimondo has repeatedly refused to return the money to the Sackler couple. More recently, Jonathan Sackler and a number of his relatives— has been named personally by both the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Suffolk Country New York in lawsuits. More than 40 states and thousands of Cities and towns across the country are suing the Sackler’s Purdue Pharma

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National Trend

“In the United States, drug overdoses resulted in 702,568 deaths during 1999–2017, with 399,230 (56.8%) involving opioids. From 2016 to 2017, death rates from all opioids increased, with increases driven by synthetic opioids,” reports the CDC.

The numbers are sobering, drug overdoses resulted in 70,237 deaths during 2017; among these, 47,600 (67.8%) involved opioids (14.9 per 100,000 population), representing a 12.0% rate increase from 2016.  And,  synthetic opioids were involved in 59.8% of all opioid-involved overdose deaths; the rate increased by 45.2% from 2016 to 2017.

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