U.S. drug overdose deaths rise for 11th year running

Posted Feb 22, 2013 by Tim Sandle
Deaths from drug overdoses have risen for the 11th consecutive year according to U.S. government data. The main cause is from the overuse of addictive painkillers.
The increase in drug related deaths is based on a new report, which examines data from 2010. The research summary indicates that during this year, there were 38,329 drug overdose deaths throughout the U.S. In 60% of the cases (22,134 of the drug overdose deaths), the cause was the incorrect use of prescription drugs. Illegal narcotics represented the second largest category.
The research has come from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in a study led by Dr. Thomas Frieden.
The main types of misused drugs, NBC News notes, were prescribed opiates, including the medicines OxyContin and Vicodin. Another type of medicine associated with deaths was anti-anxiety drugs including Valium.
In some cases the reason for death was linked directly to the effects of the drug, in other cases the cause was drug related suicide.
The CDC has expressed concern about doctors over-prescribing drugs, especially drugs which can become addictive.
Commenting on the findings, Dr. Rich Zane, chair of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, is quoted by Pharmaceutical Processing as saying: “The results are consistent with what we experience" in ERs, he said, adding that the statistics no doubt have gotten worse since 2010. Some experts believe these deaths will level off. "Right now, there's a general belief that because these are pharmaceutical drugs, they're safer than street drugs like heroin. But at some point, people using these drugs are going to become more aware of the dangers.”
The findings have been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.