Epidemic of Prescription Drug Overdoses

More information on the epidemic of drug overdoses: MMWR 2012: 61: 10-13.

In 2007, in U.S. one death due to unintentional drug overdose occurred every 19 minutes (27,000 cases), primarily due to opioid analgesics.  In addition, for every death, there were nine persons admitted for drug treatment, and 35 emergency room visits.

The escalating drug use can be quantified.  In 1997, drug distribution through pharmacies delivered the equivalent of 96 mg of morphine per person whereas in 2007 the amount was 700 mg per person; 700 mg is enough for every person in U.S. to receive a three-week course of Vicodin (hydrocodone/acetaminophen 5mg q4 hours).

Only 10% of these patients were seeking care from multiple doctors; yet this 10% accounted for 40% of the cases of overdosage.

Prevention strategies:

  • Prescription data to prevent doctor shopping & reduce inappropriate use of opioids/selling excessive opioid prescriptions
  • Enforcing laws against ‘pill mills’
  • Improve medical practice in prescribing opioids

Additional references/previous blog entries:

Epidemic: Responding to America’s Prescription Drug Abuse Crisis  Whitehouse plan

Pediatric pharmaceutical poisoning

Deadly consequences of pain management

Why “therapeutic dose” of codeine can kill

3 thoughts on “Epidemic of Prescription Drug Overdoses

  1. Pingback: Trends in Non-medical Opiod Use and Heroin Addiction | gutsandgrowth

  2. Pingback: Narcotic Slippery Slope | gutsandgrowth

  3. Pingback: Deadly Market Forces in Narcotics | gutsandgrowth

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