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Opioids killing even more than reported, study says

The deadliest drug epidemic in American history is taking more lives than we knew.

SALT LAKE CITY - The conclusion from a study in the journal "Addiction" looks at how states report overdose deaths and correct for underreporting.

The study's author, Christopher Ruhm, is a public policy expert at the University of Virginia.

He looked at the number of overdose deaths are reporting without specifying the type of drug used by the decedent. In some states, fewer than 60 percent of overdose death certificates report specific drugs. Looking at contextual evidence for overdose rates, he estimated the number of additional deaths due to opioids.

Ruhm estimated the actual death toll from opioids is 21 to 35 percent higher than the numbers coming from the Centers for Disease Control.

Utah's death certificate reporting is better than the national average. 95 percent of all overdose deaths have an additional finding specifying the type or types of drug(s) involved.