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Painkillers are number one cause of overdose death in the U.S.
09.21.2012A report from the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Center of Excellence at Brandeis University shows that drug overdoses from prescription painkillers end more lives than the total of overdoses from heroin and cocaine put together. Most states have data collection and treatment programs in place, but the Brandeis study says more needs to be done about the problem.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls prescription drug abuse an epidemic, and notes that it resulted in 15,000 deaths in 2008 - a significant increase from the 4,000 overdose deaths reported in 1999.
The respective home states of Urgent Care Buffalo and Austin Immediate Care have some of the lower prescription drug death rates in the U.S., according to the CDC. The organization estimates that, in both Texas and New York state, between 6 and 9 people per 100,000 passed away from prescription misuse in 2008. The problem is much larger in states such as Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, all of which had between 15 and 27 prescription drug deaths per 100,000 people in 2008, according to the CDC.
"An epidemic of prescription drug abuse is devastating American families and draining state and federal time, money and manpower. Law enforcement and health officials are doing heroic work and, thankfully, this report provides a roadmap to help them further," said Kentucky Republican Congressman Hal Rogers, chair of the House Appropriations Committee.
Agencies and individuals combat the misuse of prescription drugs
Noting that the number of prescription drug deaths varied from state to state, the Brandeis study says that states that compiled data on every controlled substance were more able to prevent individuals from going to multiple doctors for gratuitous prescriptions. The implementation of state-issued forms for prescriptions slowed the rate of overdoses, as did increasing physician participation in anti-prescription drug abuse initiatives.
"Being proactive is the key to success in the fight against prescription painkiller abuse. While doctors may routinely collect and report data to a state program that signals where and when prescription painkillers are likely being misused, the program might not share that information with others who can best use it," stated John L. Eadie, director of Brandeis's PDMP Center of Excellence at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management.
By National Institute of Drug Abuse estimations, approximately seven million people were abusing prescription drugs in 2010. To help reduce this national problem, the CDC says people should make certain that only they have access to their prescriptions and keep them somewhere secure, out of reach of others.
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