Published by Pain News Network

A top official for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has acknowledged that prescription painkillers are no longer the driving force behind the nation’s so-called opioid epidemic.

In testimony last week at a congressional hearing, Debra Houry, MD, Director of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, said that heroin and illicit fentanyl were primarily to blame for the soaring rate of drug overdoses.

“Although prescription opioids were driving the increase in overdose deaths for many years, more recently, the large increase in overdose deaths has been due mainly to increases in heroin and synthetic opioid overdose deaths, not prescription opioids. Importantly, the available data indicate these increases are largely due to illicitly manufactured fentanyl,” Houry said in her prepared testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.

The CDC blamed over 33,000 deaths on opioids in 2015, less than half of which were linked to pain medication.