TUESDAY, Jan. 7, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be underreporting overdose deaths caused by opioids and other drugs, according to a report published online Jan. 7 in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Troy C. Quast, Ph.D., from the University of South Florida College of Public Health in Tampa, obtained the number of fatal overdoses from 2003 to 2017 in Florida caused by amphetamines, benzodiazepines, and opioids and by methadone, cocaine, and heroin that could be mapped across the Multiple Cause of Death (MCOD) data reported by the CDC and data reported by the Florida Medical Examiners Commission (FMEC). Differences across all deaths and by gender, age group, and race were analyzed.

Quast found that the number of deaths across all individuals ranged from 19 to 39 percent higher using FMEC versus MCOD data, depending on the drug. Over time, and by some demographic factors, there was variation in the differences.

“The MCOD data appear to undercount the number of fatal overdoses caused by the drugs we investigated. Our analysis did not identify a cause or pattern to explain the differences,” Quast writes. “Efforts to improve the reporting of fatal overdoses may enhance our understanding of and subsequently may improve the response to the drug overdose epidemic.”

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