Navigation Links
Painkillers Linked to Increase in Overdose Deaths
Date:12/10/2008

More popularity, availability of these medications may be reason, study suggests

TUESDAY, Dec. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Deaths from overdoses of prescription drugs, primarily pain relievers, appear to be on the rise throughout the United States, new research suggests.

West Virginia, in particular, has seen a large increase in such unintentional deaths, say government researchers, who have uncovered patterns of "doctor shopping" for drugs and overdosing on medications not used as prescribed.

"We found that two-thirds of these deaths involved prescription drugs that had not been prescribed to the individuals who died," said the lead researcher, Dr. Aron J. Hall, an epidemic intelligence service officer for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In addition, one in five had "doctor shopped," looking for physicians to prescribe pain medications, particularly opioids like methadone, hydrocodone and oxycodone, Hall said.

"This epidemic of prescription drug overdose involves a substantial amount of substance abuse, and it affects not just West Virginia, but particularly rural areas of the country," Hall said. "It's been a problem throughout the country. Our study focused on West Virginia as the tip of the iceberg."

Hall's group thinks that doctors and pharmacists have a critical role in preventing the misuse of these drugs. "It is essential that they counsel patients not only about the risk of overdose to themselves, but about the risks to those with whom they might share their drugs," he said.

In addition, Hall advises doctors to use prescription monitoring programs, which can tell them if patients are getting drugs from other doctors.

The report is published in the Dec. 10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

For the study, Hall's team looked at deaths from unintentional overdoses in West Virginia in 2006. From 1999 to 2004, deaths from unintentional poisoning in the state increased 550 percent, the greatest increase for any state in the country.

To determine the size of the problem in West Virginia, the researchers collected data from medical examiners, prescription drug-monitoring programs, and opiate treatment program records.

In 2006, 295 West Virginians died from unintentional overdoses of pain killers, Hall's group found. Of these, 67.1 percent were men and 91.9 percent were between the ages of 18 and 54.

Most on those who died (63.1 percent) used painkillers, but did not have a prescription for them. And 21.5 percent had prescriptions for these drugs from at least five doctors in the year before their death, the researchers found.

Women were more likely to doctor shop than men (30.9 percent vs. 16.7 percent), and younger people used painkillers for non-medical purposes more than their older counterparts did, according to the report.

In 79.3 percent of the deaths, people had used several medications. Opioids were the most common drugs used, accounting for 93.2 percent of the deaths. Of these deaths, only 44.4 percent of the victims had any evidence of having a prescription for these drugs, Hall's group noted.

Methadone was the most common drug linked to fatal overdoses, accounting for 40 percent of the deaths. People who died from a methadone overdose were less likely to have a prescription for the drug than people who overdosed on hydrocodone or oxycodone, the researchers found.

In 1997, two reports called for better management of chronic pain and encouraged the use of opioid pain medications. Since that time, the sales of these painkillers has gone up dramatically as have overdoses, deaths and recreational use linked to these drugs, Hall said.

Dr. Adam Bisaga, an associate professor of clinical psychiatry in the division on substance abuse at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, thinks that improved guidelines for appropriate prescribing, along with training to detect substance use disorders in patients, might reduce the unintended consequences seen in this study.

"This finding is not surprising. Opiates are generally very safe if used appropriately, but opiate abuse/dependence is an illness with high mortality rates," Bisaga said. "So the issue is not with the medication, but rather the detection and treatment of those who abuse and become addicted to opiates."

In addition, there is a need to expand access to addiction treatment, particularly in high-risk populations, Bisaga said.

"I strongly believe that present results could be directly used to justify implementing changes in practice and treatment to promptly reverse this worrisome trend that is likely to be occurring throughout the country, not just in one state," Bisaga said.

More information

For more on prescription drug abuse, visit the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse.



SOURCES: Aron J. Hall, D.V.M., U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta; Adam Bisaga, M.D., associate professor, clinical psychiatry, division on substance abuse, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York City; Dec. 10, 2008, Journal of the American Medical Association


'/>"/>
Copyright©2008 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Why dont painkillers work for people with fibromyalgia?
2. Antidepressants and painkillers - a dangerous combination
3. Morphine Painkillers Wont Impair Driving
4. Acupuncture Cuts Need for Post-Op Painkillers
5. Vioxx Settlement Puts Painkillers Back in the Spotlight
6. Minorities Less Likely to Get Powerful Painkillers in ER
7. NSAIDs: Painkillers, inflammation inhibitors, anti-cancer drugs and new de-methylating agents
8. Painkillers Boost Muscle Mass Among Weight-Training Elderly
9. Study shows doctors offices can help stem abuse of Oxycontin, other narcotic painkillers
10. Common painkillers lower levels of prostate cancer biomarker
11. Study Sheds Light on Painkillers Heart Risk
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Painkillers Linked to Increase in Overdose Deaths
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... As a lifelong Southern Californian, Dr. Omkar ... M.D from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He trained in Internal ... complete his fellowship in hematology/oncology at the UCLA-Olive View-Cedars Sinai program where he had ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... , ... On Friday, June 10, Van Mitchell, Secretary of the Maryland Department ... in recognition of their exemplary accomplishments in worksite health promotion. , The Wellness at ... Wellness Symposium at the BWI Marriott in Linthicum Heights. iHire was one of 42 ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... A recent article ... are unfamiliar with. The article goes on to state that individuals are now more ... these less common operations such as calf and cheek reduction. The Los Angeles area ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... June 19, 2016 is World Sickle Cell Observance ... and the benefits of holistic treatments, Serenity Recovery Center of Marne, Michigan, ... Disease. , Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a disorder of the red blood cells, ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... The Pulmonary Hypertension ... that it will receive two significant new grants to support its work to ... its 25th anniversary by recognizing patients, medical professionals and scientists for their work ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... and SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. , June 24, 2016 ... mobile pulmonary function testing company, is now able to perform sophisticated ... by ndd Medical Technologies , Inc. Patients ... hospital-based labs.  Thanks to ndd,s EasyOne PRO ® , ARL patients ... get any needed testing done in the comfort of her own ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Belgium , June 24, 2016 ... today announced the appointment of Dr. Edward ... as a Non-Executive Director, effective June 23, 2016.Dr. ... Compensation and Nominations and Governance Committees.  As a ... will provide independent expertise and strategic counsel to ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Any dentist who has made an implant supported ... Many of them do not even offer this as a ... laboratory costs involved. And those who ARE able to offer ... high cost that the majority of today,s patients would not ... Zadeh , founder of Dental Evolutions Inc. and inventor of ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: