Tags: painkiller | deaths | heroin | cocaine

Prescription Painkillers Kill More Than Cocaine, Heroin

By    |   Thursday, 19 June 2014 05:29 PM

More Americans die from overdoses of commonly prescribed painkillers than heroin and cocaine combined, according to researchers at McGill University.
In a first-of-its-kind analysis, the McGill team found a dramatic increase in deaths due to prescribed painkillers, linked to more than 16,000 deaths in 2010 in the U.S. alone.
Currently, the U.S. ranks No. 1 in the world in per-capita consumption of painkillers.
"Prescription painkiller overdoses have received a lot of attention in editorials and the popular press, but we wanted to find out what solid evidence is out there," said lead researcher Nicholas King, of the Biomedical Ethics Unit in the Faculty of Medicine.
To reach their conclusions, King and his team reviewed numerous studies of drug-related deaths.
"We also wanted to find out why thousands of people in the U.S and Canada are dying from prescription painkillers every year, and why these rates have climbed steadily during the past two decades," said King.

"We found evidence for at least 17 different determinants of increasing opioid-related mortality, mainly, dramatically increased prescription and sales of opioids; increased use of strong, long-acting opioids like Oxycontin and methadone; combined use of opioids and other (licit and illicit) drugs and alcohol; and social and demographic factors."
He added that studies provided little evidence that Internet sales of pharmaceuticals or errors by doctors and patients played a significant role.
King said the findings point to a complicated "epidemic" in which physicians, users, the healthcare system, and the social environment all play a role.
"Our work provides a reliable summary of the possible causes of the epidemic of opioid overdoses, which should be useful for clinicians and policy makers in North America in figuring out what further research needs to be done, and what strategies might or might not be useful in reducing future mortality," said King.

"And as efforts are made to increase access to prescription opioids outside of North America, our findings might be useful in preventing other countries from following the same path as the U.S. and Canada."
The study was published in the American Journal of Public Health.

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More Americans die from overdoses of prescription painkillers than heroin and cocaine combined, according to researchers at McGill University.
painkiller, deaths, heroin, cocaine
Thursday, 19 June 2014 05:29 PM
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