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Millennium Health’s Signals ReportTM COVID-19 Special Edition Reveals Significant Changes in Drug Use During the Pandemic

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – July 8, 2020Millennium Health conducted an analysis of over 500,000 definitive urine drug test (UDT) results for non-prescribed fentanyl, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine in the periods before and after COVID-19 was declared a national emergency. Nationally, all four drugs had significant increases in positivity since the declaration of COVID-19 as a national emergency on March 13, 2020.

National findings revealed:

  • 31.96% increase for non-prescribed fentanyl
  • 19.96% increase for methamphetamine
  • 10.06% increase for cocaine
  • 12.53% increase for heroin

line graph showing total study population change in unadjusted positivity rate for cocaine, fentanyl, heroin, and methamphetamine

Public health officials across the country are reporting spikes in drug overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic, with over 30 states reporting increases in opioid-involved overdose deaths, primarily related to illicit fentanyl.1 Combined with the impact COVID-19 has on patients with mental health and substance use disorders, additional resources may be needed to address resulting public health consequences, including the risk of drug overdose.

“This report reinforces the value proposition of definitive UDT as an important and timely data stream for both prescribed and non-prescribed drugs and can significantly contribute to helping us understand the complexion of drug overdose deaths at the regional or local levels, especially with regard to illicit substance use,” says Kevin L. Zacharoff, MD, FACIP, FACPE, FAAP, Faculty and Clinical Instructor SUNY Stony Brook School of Medicine, Stony Brook, NY. “This data can help us identify specific substances that are likely contributing to the reported increases in drug-related overdose deaths nationwide, which can then be used to inform tailored, geographically-targeted mitigation strategies to help save lives. As we focus on what happens with the COVID-19 pandemic in both the long and short-term, it is critically important for us to not lose sight of the epidemic of drug-related overdoses that continues to coexist.”

Millennium Health Chief Clinical Officer Angela G. Huskey, PharmD, CPE adds, “This analysis demonstrates Millennium Health’s ongoing commitment to service, support, and clinical education. We offer these insights for the benefit of clinicians, policy makers, public healthcare agencies, and most importantly the patients we all serve during these especially challenging times. We recognize that drug use trends may continue to evolve as the pandemic unfolds. We will continue to use our clinical and analytic capabilities as an aid in the identification of emerging trends.”

A copy of the full report can be accessed on the Millennium Health website.

About Millennium Health
Millennium Health is an accredited specialty laboratory with over a decade of experience delivering timely, accurate, clinically-actionable information through our nationwide medication monitoring and drug testing services. Processing hundreds of thousands of specimens each year allows us to provide real-time analytics regarding emerging drug use trends, such as our studies published in JAMA Network Open and the Millennium Health Signals Report™ and has resulted in our collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help fight our nation’s drug overdose crisis. We also offer evidence-based, guideline-driven pharmacogenetic testing helping clinicians make more informed medication choices.

Media Contact:
Jody Schneider, Millennium Health
(619) 917-6810
Jody.Schneider@millenniumhealth.com

Reference:

  1. American Medical Association. Issue brief: Reports of increases in opioid related overdose and other concerns during COVID pandemic. Available at: https://www.ama-assn.org/system/files/2020-06/issue-brief-increases-in-opioid-related-overdose.pdf Accessed June 2020.