FACT CHECK: Have 70,000 Americans Died From Fentanyl Overdoses?

Anna Mock | Fact Check Reporter

Republican South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott claimed in a tweet that 70,000 Americans have died from fentanyl overdoses. 

Verdict: True

This statistic is accurate. A report from the National Institutes of Health verifies the number, which a spokesperson for Scott provided in an email to Check Your Fact.

Fact Check: 

Scott, a Republican presidential candidate, said to Fox News that he would finish building the southern border wall if he was elected president, according to The Hill. Scott also visited the U.S.-Mexico border, the outlet reported.

Scott claimed in an August 1 tweet that 70,000 Americans have died from fentanyl overdoses.

“If we give Biden another term in office, illegal immigrants and Mexican cartels will continue to bring fentanyl over our border and into our communities,” the tweet reads. “Over 70,000 Americans have lost their lives to fentanyl. These victims are our loved ones – fathers, mothers, daughters, and sons. People with promising futures and full lives to live.”

There are several reliable sources that confirm the number of deaths due to fentanyl overdoses is around 70,000. Check Your Fact (CYF) received confirmation of the estimate from a spokesperson from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)  with a report published on their website. In figure 2, which lists the number of deaths by drug, the number of those killed by synthetic opioids (primarily fentanyl) was around 70,000.

The report also indicated that fentanyl-related deaths were increasing significantly, approximately a 7.5-fold increase between 2015 and 2021. The NIH states that a fentanyl can be very fatal in small quantities due to it being 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

Other sources have constantly referred to the number. A May 9 post from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department states fentanyl “is found in many illicit drugs and is killing approximately 70,000 Americans every year.”

A spokesperson from Scott’s office also referred CYF in email to a CNN article that also used the number. The article references a report from the CDC that states “nearly 70,000” overdoses “involved” fentanyl.  

In the 2023 State of the Union Address, Democratic President Joe Biden said fentanyl kills over 70,000 Americans per year. The floor erupted with “hear! hear!” after this statement. (RELATED: Were There 110,000 Overdose Deaths In 2022?)

CYF has reached out to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for comment and will update this piece accordingly if one is received.

Anna Mock

Fact Check Reporter