From May 1, 2018 LA Times and JAMA

The U.S. opioid crisis has passed a dubious milestone: Overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids like illicit fentanyl have surpassed deaths involving prescription opioids.

This switch occurred in 2016, according to data published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. And it seemed to happen pretty suddenly.

 Data from the National Vital Statistics System show that there were 42,249 opioid-related overdose deaths in 2016. That includes 19,413 that involved synthetic opioids, 17,087 that involved prescription opioids and 15,469 that involved heroin. (In some cases, more than one type of drug was implicated in the death.)

That means synthetic opioids were a factor in 46% of all fatal opioid overdoses in 2016, compared with 40% for prescription opioids.

Source: Changes in Synthetic Opioid Involvement in Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 2010-2016 | Emergency Medicine | JAMA | JAMA Network