2nd February 2018, Volume 131 Number 1469

Paul L Morrow

For anyone who follows the US media or watches the American medical scene, it is not news that America is currently in the grips of an unprecedented epidemic of deaths…

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There has been an increase in opioid drug deaths world-wide and the US is currently in an epidemic of opioid-related deaths. Although so far New Zealand has not seen a significant rise in opioid drug deaths, there may be a risk. Medical surveillance for an increase of opioid abuse and deaths is warranted to take early action to prevent such an epidemic occurring in New Zealand.


The US is currently in the grips of an epidemic of opioid drug deaths. The pattern has shifted from prescription opioids to illicit fentanyl in most recent years. In New Zealand there has been concern about prescription opioid drugs, although we have not seen the rapid increase in mortality that has been observed in the US. It is not clear whether we will follow the American pattern, but there may be lessons we can learn from the American experience and develop appropriate surveillance for this potentially significant public health problem.

Author Information

Paul L Morrow, MD, Department of Forensic Pathology, Auckland City Hospital, Auckland.


Dr Paul Morrow, Department of Forensic Pathology, Auckland City Hospital, Gate 4 Grafton Road, Auckland 1148.

Correspondence Email


Competing Interests



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