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Guest posted a topic in TopicsWASHINGTON — The death rate in the United States rose last year for the first time in a decade, preliminary federal data show, a rare increase that was driven in part by more people dying from drug overdoses, suicide and Alzheimer’s disease. The death rate from heart disease, long in decline, edged up slightly. Death rates — measured as the number of deaths per 100,000 people — have been declining for years, an effect of improvements in health, disease management and medical technology. While recent research has documented sharp rises in death rates among certain groups — in particular less educated whites, who have been hardest hit by the prescription drug epidemic — increases for the entire population are relatively rare. Federal researchers cautioned that it was too early to tell whether the rising mortality among whites had pushed up the overall national death rate. (Preliminary data is not broken down by race, and final data will not be out until later this year.) But they said the rise was real, and while it is premature to ring an alarm now, if it continues, it could be a signal of distress in the health of the nation. “It’s an uptick in mortality and that doesn’t usually happen, so it’s significant,” said Robert Anderson, the chief of mortality statistics at the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “But the question is, what does it mean? We really need more data to know. If we start looking at 2016 and we see another rise, we’ll be a lot more concerned.” The death rate rose to 729.5 deaths per 100,000 people in 2015, up from 723.2 in 2014, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. It was one of the few times in the past 25 years that the rate has increased. A bad flu season pushed it up in 2005, and AIDS and the flu contributed to a sharp increase in 1993. In 1999, there was a tiny increase. Experts said the current rise was surprising. “We are not accustomed to seeing death rates increase on a national scale,” said Andrew Fenelon, a researcher at the C.D.C. who did not work on the paper. “We’ve seen increases in mortality for some groups, but it is quite rare to see it for the whole population.” He added that it would drag the United States further behind its European peers: “Many countries in Europe are witnessing declines in mortality, so the gap between the U.S. and other countries is growing.” Others said the finding seemed to fit the broader pattern of rising mortality among working-class whites, a trend that has drawn significant attention recently. Last year, a paper by Anne Case and Angus Deaton documented rising death rates among middle-age white Americans, particularly those with no more than a high school education. Other research has found rising rates among younger whites. “This is probably heavily influenced by whites,” said Sam Harper, an epidemiologist at McGill University in Montreal. “It does sort of fit together.” Chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease take by far the most American lives, far more, for example, than suicide or homicide, so any change in such causes can have a big effect on the final numbers. Dr. Anderson pointed out that the death rate from heart disease, which had been declining for decades — and offsetting the rises in drug deaths, for example — flattened. That gives other causes of death more of an influence, Dr. Anderson said, as they are no longer being offset by declines from heart disease. The death rate from heart disease stood at 167.1 in 2015, up from 166.7 in 2014, though the rise was not statistically significant. It was the first time since 1993 that the rate did not decline, Dr. Anderson said. The death rate from suicides rose to 13.1 in the third quarter of 2015, from 12.7 in the same quarter of 2014. (The last quarter of 2015 data was not yet available for suicides.) The same was true for drug overdoses, whose data the report had for only the first two quarters of 2015. The death rate for overdoses rose to 15.2 in the second quarter of 2015, compared with 14.1 in the same quarter of 2014. The rate for so-called unintentional injuries, which include drug overdoses and car accidents, rose to 42 in the third quarter of 2015, up from 39.9 in the same quarter of 2014. The rate for Alzheimer’s disease was also up, rising to 29.2 in 2015, compared with 25.4 in 2014, the continuation of some years of increases. Dr. Anderson said that part of the rise was more precise reporting of Alzheimer’s on death certificates, but that overalldementia-related deaths had increased over time. Source:
CVS pharmacies in Virginia will now offer drug overdose-reversal medication naloxone (commonly known as Narcan), the company and the state’s governor Terry McAuliffe announced on May 11. The medication, which can potentially save lives, will be available in CVS stores across Virginia without a prescription. “Naloxone is a safe and effective antidote to opioid overdoses and by expanding access to this medication in our Virginia pharmacies by the use of a physician’s standing order for patients without a prescription, we can help save lives,” said Tom Davis, RPh, vice president of Pharmacy Professional Practices at CVS Pharmacy. Davis also commended Virginia for fighting against drug abuse and addiction by now offering the medication. “Drug overdose is the number one cause of unnatural death in Virginia, and it has been for the past three years,” said Gov. McAuliffe. He also said drug overdoses kill more Virginians than motor vehicle accidents or firearms. About 1,000 residents of Virginia died of a drug overdose last year—more than 500 of the cases involved prescription opioids and 300 from heroin. McAuliffe said he welcomed the step by CVS to save peoples’ lives in his state. “So we know that this particular class of narcotic, which includes both prescription and illegal drugs, is the primary killer that we must confront if we are going to end this epidemic,” said the governor. “Prescription opioid and heroin overdoses are killing our citizens, and we need to use every tool we can to fight that epidemic,” said William Hazel, secretary for Virginia’s Health and Human Resources. “But having a drug like naloxone that can reverse a potentially fatal overdose is, quite literally, a life-saver. The more available it is, the more lives can be saved,” he added. Emergency responders are allowed to carry the life-saving drug, but Homeland Security Brian Moran says allowing ordinary citizens to have access to the medication can save more lives. “We allow and encourage our first responders to carry this life-saving drug, and to know how to use it,” said Secretary Moran. “But families and friends of people with addiction are often the actual first people to encounter a person who has overdosed. Making naloxone more easily available to them at drugstores like CVS is one step toward saving a life.” CVS also launched new digital resources on their website to help people learn more about drug abuse prevention. The company announced CVS pharmacies in 22 other states besides Virginia can dispense naloxone to patients without an individual prescription. How to Administer Narcan Nasal Spray Below is a video put together by the Boston Herald. Sarah Mackin, a program manager at the Boston Public Health Commission, explains the signs of someone who has taken an overdose and how to administer the Narcan nasal spray to hopefully save a life. Source: