US opioid epidemic by numbers

From the number of deaths linked to overdoses to the number of lawsuits, a look at the scale of the US opioid crisis.

This August 15, 2017 file photo shows an arrangement of pills of the opioid oxycodone-acetaminophen in New York [File: Patrick Sison/AP Photo]

Opioid deaths in the United States have soared over the last 20 years, driving a wave of litigation against drugmakers and distributors.

The following is a look at the scale of the epidemic and the related legal battles. Numbers relating to opioid use, illnesses and deaths are based on information from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nearly 400,000 – Deaths linked to overdoses of opioids in the US, including illegal drugs like heroin, from 1990 to 2017

About 218,000 – Number of those deaths linked to prescription opioids

About 130 – Average number of opioid overdose deaths in the US every day

67.8 percent – Percentage of drug overdose deaths that involved an opioid in 2017 

191,218,272– Number of opioid prescriptions dispensed in the US in 2017


17.4 percent – Share of US population that had at least one opioid prescription filled in 2017

About 2,600 – Lawsuits pending nationwide over opioids

Approximately 2,300 – Lawsuits consolidated before US District Judge Dan Polster in Cleveland, Ohio

Two – Number of opioid makers that have filed for bankruptcy

Source: Reuters