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Los Angeles sees rise in fentanyl overdose deaths

Deaths occurred more frequently in less-affluent areas than in more affluent ones.

November 30, 2022 6:10pm

Updated: November 30, 2022 6:25pm

Fentanyl overdoses have increased by over ten times in Los Angeles County since 2016, according to a report released Tuesday by the county Department of Public Health.

Overdose deaths attributed to the synthetic opioid increased by 1,280% over the five-year period ending in 2021, according to the report.

In a joint statement, the county health department and district attorney’s office also announced the creation of a working group that will address the fentanyl crisis “through prevention, education and enforcement,” reports Fox 11 Los Angeles.

The report found that there were only 109 overdose deaths attributed to fentanyl in 2016. That number spiked to 1,504 in 2021.

Emergency room visits related to fentanyl overdoses increased by 308% in the same five-year period, going from 133 to 542.

The opioid overdose crisis affected different demographics differently. White residents accounted for the most over deaths overall last year, but Blacks had the highest death rate based on population – 30.6 per 100,000 residents. The fentanyl overdose death rate was 22.5 per 100,000 residents for whites, while Hispanic residents had a rate of 11.1 per 100,000.

Deaths attributed to fentanyl overdose occurred at a much higher rate in less-affluent areas than in more affluent ones, 38.4 and 12.3 per 100,000 residents, respectively.

"Fentanyl overdoses are a significant and growing public health problem across the United States and in LAC, across sociodemographic groups and geographic areas," said the report.

"The increases among youth and the widening inequities between under- resourced and more affluent groups underscore the need to target prevention efforts to those at highest risk to decrease fentanyl overdoses and advance health equity in LAC."

Much fentanyl comes into the U.S. through its border with Mexico is originally manufactured in China.