More than 42,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses in 2016, a 28 percent increase from 2015. This death toll contributed to a decline in the overall life expectancy in the United States for the second year in a row, according to statistics released December 21 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
US life expectancy, the average number of years a typical person is expected to live, declined from 78.7 in 2015 to 78.6 in 2016. This is the first time that life expectancy has dropped two consecutive years since the early 1960s.
The 28 percent jump in the number of opioid-related deaths, which include overdoses from synthetic opiates such as fentanyl and opiate painkillers, was steeper than previous one-year increases in overdose deaths.
Many initiatives are testing a range of solutions to curb this alarming national health crisis. Unfortunately, there is much we don’t yet know about what works best for particular patients and situations.
PCORI's Investment in Pain Care and Opioids Research
PCORI has invested $252 million in 65 patient-centered comparative clinical effectiveness research studies related to either noncancer pain management or opioid use in an effort to fill in those knowledge gaps. These include 12 studies specifically focused on opioid use.
Some of these studies are comparing different therapies to determine what’s most effective in treating acute and chronic pain. Others are assessing what works best for preventing unsafe opioid prescribing, reducing opioid reliance, and preventing and treating opioid use disorders, among other crucial questions. These studies will provide information on the types of interventions that may be particularly effective in specific patient populations and settings, not just on which approaches work generally.
We are also in the process of evaluating proposals for studies that aim to assess medicated-assisted treatment delivery for pregnant women with opioid use disorders. We anticipate announcing awards for meritorious projects this spring.