Prescription Drug Poisoning Cases Rise

The second leading cause of unintentional injury death in the United States is <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/defective_drugs">prescription medication poisoning, exceeding car crashes, in the 35-to-54-age range, wrote Science Daily.

In a study published in next month’s issue of the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, researchers wrote that poisoning hospitalizations for prescription medications—opioids, sedative, and tranquilizers—increased in the United States by 65 percent in the years from 1999 to 2006, said Science Daily.

“Deaths and hospitalizations associated with prescription drug misuse have reached epidemic proportions,” said the study’s lead author, Jeffrey H. Coben, MD, of the West Virginia University School of Medicine, quoted Science Daily. “It is essential that health care providers, pharmacists, insurance providers, state and federal agencies, and the general public all work together to address this crisis. Prescription medications are just as powerful and dangerous as other notorious street drugs, and we need to ensure people are aware of these dangers and that treatment services are available for those with substance abuse problems,” Dr. Coben added.

The study, which was the first all-inclusive look at hospitalizations in the U.S. that were linked to these medications, with data gathered from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS), which contains records for about eight million hospitalizations by year, explained Science Daily. Using standard diagnosis codes from the ICD-9-CM, the team pulled all poisoning cases by drugs, medicinal, and biological substances reported from 1999-2006, from the NIS, further breaking down the specific drugs in each case, and if the poisoning was “intentional, unintentional, or undetermined” said Science Daily. In the same period, unintentional poisonings increased by 37 percent.

Dr. Coben wrote that “Interviews with survivors could provide important additional details regarding the pathways to abuse of these drugs, the methods used to obtain the medications, the sequencing and combination of drugs that result in overdose, and the immediate precursors to these serious events. The association between hospitalization for prescription opioids, sedatives, and tranquilizers and subsequent morbidity and mortality is another area in need of further research,” quoted Science Daily, noting that the problem appears to be on the rise, pointing to more needed research on the issue.

According to Science Daily, most hospitalized poisonings are considered unintentional and it is believed that the growing accessibility of these medications is contributing the poisonings.

Late last year we wrote that two federal agencies were collaborating on the issue of opioid use and related accidental, often fatal, overdoses, and were seeking ways in which to ensure the painkillers are save and available. “We know that these drugs have important therapeutic uses,” said Douglas Throckmorton, MD, the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) deputy director for Drug Evaluation and Research. “We also know that there’s abuse. There are overdoses. There’s diversion that we don’t want to happen,” he added, quoted AMedNews previously.

One of the contributing factors to the rise in overdose and deaths is doctor shopping, which according to a prior Daily Progress article, is the practice of moving from one doctor or emergency room to another to collect prescriptions and ensure a supply of drugs when one doctor or facility catches on to the abuse.

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