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Painkiller Overdose Record Triple

November 2, 2011 by staff 

Painkiller Overdose Record Triple, Lethal overdose of painkillers has tripled in the last decade and now account for more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined, USA health officials said Tuesday.

The amount of painkillers on the market is so high that it would be enough to care for all Americans with a standard dose of Vicodin every four hours for a full month, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The epidemic of prescription drug overdoses in the United States has worsened over the last ten years,” said the CDC Vital Signs report.

The study focused on opioidanlgesics, including oxycodone, methadone and hydrocodone better known as Vicodin, which have quadrupled in sales to pharmacies, hospitals and doctors’ offices since 1999.

Last year, 12 million Americans aged 12 years or slightly less than five percent of the population reported taking prescription painkillers for recreation, not because of a medical condition.

The number of deaths from overdoses of opioidanlgesics has more than tripled from 4000 in 1999 to 14,800 people in 2008.

Deaths from prescription drugs accounted for nearly 75 percent of overdose deaths in which a drug is specified in the certificate of death, according to the CDC, said the deaths and hospitalizations has increased in parallel with the increased supply .

The rate of sales of the three opioid included in the study came to 7.1 per 10,000 kilograms last year, or the same as 710 milligrams per person in the United States.

“Just OPR were prescribed last year to care for all U.S. adults with a treatment dose of pain standard five milligrams of hydrocodone (Vicodin and others) taken every four hours during a month,” the CDC said.

Although a relatively small part of the U.S. population admits abusing painkillers, costs for health insurance companies are huge – and 72.5 billion annually, according to the report.

Rural and poor areas tend to have higher rates of prescription drug overdose death.

The epidemic is at its height between the middle-aged white men and Native Americans or Alaska, the CDC said.

States could do a better job of regulating the problem through drug surveillance records and insurance claims information that “you can identify and address inappropriate prescribing and use by patients,” the report said.

More laws against so-called “pill mills”, which is prescribed at higher than normal in the states particularly affected, may also reduce the problem, he said.

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