Fatal Painkiller Overdoses Hit Record
November 2, 2011 by staff
Fatal Painkiller Overdoses Hit Record, Deaths from overdose of prescription painkillers in the U.S. have reached “epidemic” levels in the last 10 years and now account for more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined, the government health officials said Tuesday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a report that drugs like Vicodin, oxycodone and methadone are the culprits of 14,800 cases of fatal overdose in 2008 – more than three times the 4,000 who died of overdose of painkillers in 1999.
That rate has increased almost in tune with the pace of sales of painkiller to pharmacies, hospitals and doctors, which has quadrupled in the last decade. The rate of prescription painkiller sales in 2010 reached 7.1kg per 10,000 people, which, according to the CDC was enough “to care for all American adults around the clock for a month.”
“While most of these pills were prescribed for a medical purpose, many ended up in the hands of people who misused or abused them,” he said.
Last year, 12 million Americans reported taking prescription painkillers for nonmedical use, or leisure.
Death rates and nonprescription pain vary widely by state. Notorious “pill mills” have made Florida the epicenter of prescription drug sales in the U.S. and sales per person in the state were more than three times higher than in Illinois, which has the lowest rate.
Meanwhile, the overdose death rates varied from 5.5 per 100,000 people in Nebraska and 27 in New Mexico, the CDC said.
Among the key demographic subgroups, the CDC found that many more men than women died from overdose
analgesics, middle-aged adults had the highest rates of overdose, and people in rural counties were about twice as likely to suffer an overdose of city dwellers.
To combat the increasing abuse of drugs, the CDC urged providers of health care to prescribe painkillers just to “carefully selected and monitored patients” when alternative treatments have not been sufficient to treat pain.
Health officials also recommended that States take strong action against pill mills and use the prescription drug monitoring records and insurance claims information to identify and address inappropriate prescribing and use by patients
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