Relationship Between Opioid Prescribing and Overdose Mortality

An analysis of a complex relationship.

Congratulations to Dr. Stephen Nadeau on the publication of “Relationship Between Opioid Prescribing and Overdose Mortality,” which appears online in the January 18th Edition of the Daily Remedy.


This paper provides an analysis of relationships between prescribing for opioid analgesics in acute and chronic pain, versus drug overdose mortality in which a prescription opioid is identified as a contributing cause of death.  Data reported in the US National Cause of Death database support the finding that opioid analgesics prescribed by responsible clinicians have contributed only marginally to drug related mortality in years from 2000 to 2020.

When US National statistics are dis-aggregated to reveal State by State relationships, opioid prescribing rates are shown to have no consistent cause-and-effect association with deaths attributed to prescription drugs.  The contribution of prescription opioids to the US opioid crisis is effectively “lost in the noise” of street drugs – particularly Heroin and illicit Fentanyl.