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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Prescription Drug Deaths Triple

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention just released a startling report regarding prescription drug overdoses. More people die from prescription drug overdoses than heroin and cocaine combined, the number of Americans who died from overdoses of prescription painkillers more than tripled in the past decade, according to the CDC.

According to the CDC and the AP:

  • An estimated 14,800 people died in the United States from painkiller overdoses in 2008, a more than threefold jump from the 4,000 deaths recorded in 1999.
  • Prescription and illegal drugs caused 36,450 deaths in 2008, compared with 39,973 deaths from motor vehicle crashes.

The CDC attributes the rise in prescription drug overdoses to:
  • “pill mills”
  • “doctor shopping”

In 2010, the amount of prescription painkillers that were prescribed could medicate every American in the country around the clock for an entire month, according to the CDC. “Right now, the system is awash in opioids—dangerous drugs that got people hooked and keep them hooked,” said CDC Director Thomas Frieden.

“Prescription drug abuse is a silent epidemic that is stealing thousands of lives and tearing apart communities and families across America,” Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy, said in a CDC news release. He noted health care providers and patients should be educated on the risks of prescription painkillers. “Parents and grandparents should properly dispose of any unneeded or expired medications from the home and to talk to their kids about the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs,” he pointed out.

It is unbelievable how easy it has become to acquire prescription opioids in this country. It is no wonder considering the apparent lack of oversight regarding production as well as distribution of the drugs. However, with the advent of new state-to-state prescription drug databases we will hopefully see a dramatic drop in overdoses associated with prescription drugs.

According to the CDC, 40 Americans die every day from prescription painkiller abuse!

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