Federal data shows that prescription drug overdose deaths increased for the 11th year in a row. Most accidents involved the ingestion and overdoses of pain relievers. The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that pharmaceuticals, especially opioid analgesics, have driven this increase.
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2010, there were 38,329 drug overdose deaths nationwide. That same year, medicines were involved in almost 60 % of overdose deaths. Most of the medicines were prescription drugs. Three out of four medication overdose deaths involved an Opioid drug such as OxyContin and Vicodin. Seventeen percent of medication-related deaths were suicides.
The rise in overdose deaths in the US parallels a 300% increase since 1999 in the sale of strong painkillers. These drugs were involved in14,800 overdose deaths in 2008. This is more than cocaine and heroin combined.
In 2009, the misuse and abuse of prescription medicines was responsible for more than 475,000 emergency department visits, a number that doubled in only five years.
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