Prescription opioid shipments declined sharply even as fatal overdoses increased, new data shows

New data shows that the number of prescription opioid pills shipped in the U.S. continued to fall through the late 2010s even as the nation’s overdose crisis deepened. Local governments that are suing drugmakers, wholesalers and pharmacies released updated federal data on Tuesday showing how many units of the powerful prescriptions were distributed from 2015 through 2019. With prescribing restrictions in place and lawsuits looming, shipments continued to fall from their peak in 2011. But the lawyers noted that this did not solve the crisis. While prescribing declined, the amount of illicit opioids such as heroin and fentanyl increased, as did the overdose fatalities.