Monday, July 12, 2010

Prescription drug overdose cases skyrocket at emergency departments

American Medical News (online) July 12:

"With newly released data showing that prescription drug misuse now rivals illicit drug use as a cause of emergency department visits, the Food and Drug Administration in June released a long-awaited proposal aimed at curbing recreational use of opioid analgesics. Physicians and advocates for pain patients hailed the FDA's proposal for addressing the growing opioid abuse problem while not impeding legitimate access to pain treatment. Fatal poisonings from opioid overdoses tripled to nearly 14,000 deaths from 1999 to 2006, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in September 2009. The tally of near-deadly incidents involving opioids is far higher and growing rapidly, as revealed in the CDC's June 18 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Emergency department visits related to misuse of prescription or over-the-counter drugs doubled from 500,000 in 2004 to 1 million in 2008, said the report, based on estimates from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Drug Abuse Warning Network. DAWN generated the estimates by reviewing data and medical charts submitted by 231 U.S. emergency departments..."
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