Painkillers, heroin drive increase in US overdose deaths

MIKE STOBBE, AP Medical Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Drug overdoses rose again last year, driven by surges in deaths from heroin and powerful prescription painkillers.

Overall, overdose deaths in the U.S. surpassed 47,000 — up 7 percent from the previous year.

Many of the deaths were due to prescription painkillers, which have long been the leading cause of fatal overdoses. But the number had been stable recently.

Last year, prescription painkiller deaths went up to nearly 19,000 deaths.

Heroin deaths also climbed, to about 10,500.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted the numbers this week. They are based on death certificates filed last year.