A report from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) shows that fentanyl is the largest drug threat to the United States, causing 44 deaths per day.
The DEA’s National Drug Threat Assessment published its most recent data Tuesday, stating that drug overdoses caused an average of 129 deaths per day in 2014, the Daily Mail reported.
Fentanyl is 40 times more powerful than heroin and has increased the frequency of fatal drug abuse.
Prescription drugs were responsible for more deaths than cocaine and heroin combined.
“Sadly, this report reconfirms that opioids such as heroin and fentanyl – and diverted prescription pain pills – are killing people in this country at a horrifying rate,” said Acting Administrator Rosenberg. “We face a public health crisis of historic proportions. Countering it requires a comprehensive approach that includes law enforcement, education, and treatment.”
Fentanyl is often illegally smuggled into other drugs such as heroin or pills without the user’s knowledge.
High-profile deaths of fentanyl overdose and reports of opioid overdoses in the media have brought the issue to light.
The singer Prince died of a fentanyl overdose in April. Police found pills containing the substance in his home, believed to have been obtained illegally.
A couple in Ohio was caught passed out attempting to drive a vehicle with a four-year-old in the back seat due to an opioid overdose in September. The police department posted the photo online to deter people from doing drugs.
A viral video showed a couple passed out of an overdose on the sidewalk in Memphis, Tennessee, in October. The couple eventually was revived and attended rehab after the incident.