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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

CDC Reports Slower Rise In Prescription Drug Deaths

After years of sharp elevation in prescription drug related deaths, deaths from prescription narcotic painkillers appear to be leveling out, or rising at a slower pace than in previous years, reports the CDC. Any death related to prescription drugs is a sad occurrence and while the number of deaths every year is still on the rise, it is nice to read a report that indicates a decrease in the rise.

The report showed that from 1999 to 2006 prescription painkiller overdose deaths rose by 18 percent each year, but from 2007 to 2011 the number of deaths only rose by 3 percent each year, according to USA Today. In 1999, prescription opioids were involved in 2,749 overdose deaths, in 2011 opioids like hydrocodone and oxycodone were involved in 11,963 overdose deaths, according to the CDC report.

Benzodiazepines, drugs like Xanax or Valium, are commonly prescribed anti-anxiety medications that can be extremely dangerous if mixed with other prescription drugs like opioids. The report showed that Benzodiazepines were involved in a growing number of opioid-related deaths; in fact such drugs were involved in 31 percent of opioid-related deaths in 2011, up from 13 percent in 1999.

What’s more, there has been in increase in the number of drug-poisoning deaths involving methadone, a controversial pain medication that has been used for treating opiate dependent people for decades. In 1999, methadone was involved in 784 deaths, a number which rose to 5,518 by 2007, and then declined to 4,418 deaths in 2011.

It remains clear that prescription drug abuse is still a major concern in America and there is still cause for great concern despite the efforts from a number of government agencies to make the abuse of certain medication more difficult. The DEA has announced that it will reclassify hydrocodone from a Schedule III to a Schedule II narcotic, which will decrease peoples' ability to abuse the medication; patients will be able to receive the drug for up to 90 days without receiving a new prescription.

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