Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Prescription Drug Deaths on the Rise--and Not Just Celebrities Are Dying

Corey Haim may be the most recent celebrity victim of prescription overdose, but there have been others before him, such as Health Ledger. Long before either of these men the king of Rock, Elvis Presley, succumbed to prescription medication. Considering all the press attention these deaths received, and little or nothing of recent date about the general population, one might think the prescription medication misuse problem was relagated only to the rich and famous.

Dr. Jeffrey H. Coben and his team of researchers at the West Virginia University School of Medicine recently completed a study that will be published in the May 2010 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine which exposes the prescription drug use problem among all Americans.

The West Virginia University research team's study involved gathering the data from all hospital admissions in the U.S. from 1999-2006; this involved combing through 8 million hospital admissions each of those years. From there the researchers examined diagnosis codes (ICD-9 codes) to determine what caused the hospital admission--in their case, looking for injury or death due to misuse of prescription drugs--and whether those admissions were from intentional or unintentional misuse.

What the researchers discovered was astounding: a 65 percent increase of unintentional injury or death due to prescription misuse during the 1999-2006 time period and a 37 percent increase of intentional injury or death due to prescription medication misuse.

While these numbers alone a breath-taking, an additional sad statistic helps to put these numbers into perspective: Unintentional poisoning now surpasses unintentional injury death by auto accidents in the 35-54 year-old age group.

The medications involved in the research study were opiates, tranquilizers, and sedatives.

Further reading: Science Daily  2010, April
                        Science Daily   2006
                        Science Daily   2009, December
                        Associated Content

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