DIDN’T TAKE A GENIUS –
May 25, 2022 – The special section—based around the Pitt team’s landmark research article in Science that analyzed nearly four decades of U.S. drug overdose data—contains commentary by four teams of epidemiologists, addiction specialists, modelers and drug policy experts, as well as an update from the original authors and an editorial by one of the journal’s senior editors.
“Since 1979, drug overdose deaths in the U.S. have inexorably climbed along a near-perfect exponential curve, despite changes in the popularity of different drugs, new drug control policies, changing demographics, economic upswings and downturns, wars—and now a global pandemic,” said Donald S. Burke, M.D., Distinguished University Professor of Health Science and Policy in Pitt Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology and senior author of the Science publication. “The fact that we’re still seeing this exponential growth in another five years of data—413,000 more young Americans dead—shows that we really don’t understand the deep drivers of the epidemic.”
Following their Science publication, Burke and his colleagues published several more articles involving U.S. drug overdose death data. Notably, the team reported in Nature Medicine that the generation a person was born into—silent generation, baby boomer, Generation X or millennial—strongly predicts how likely they are to die from a drug overdose, and at what age.