Unintentional Drug Deaths Rising

Unintentional poisoning was the second leading cause of death (just behind motor vehicle crashes) in the United States in 2007. Unintentional drug overdoses represented about 93% of the unintentional poisoning deaths.  

Statistics For Florida Drug Overdose Deaths

A recent report from Florida indicates that the non-suicidal drug death rate in Florida increased by 325% between 1990 and 2001. From 2003 to 2009, data from the Florida Medical Examiners Commission showed an increase of 61% in the lethal concentrations of drugs (from 1,804 to 2,905) and an increase of 47.5% in the death rate due to drug deaths (from 10.6 to 15.7 drug deaths per 100,000 population) — there were 16,550 drug overdose deaths in which the Florida Medical Examiners Commission was involved from 2003 to 2009. During that same period, the death rate due to prescription drugs increased 84.2% (from 7.3 to 13.4 prescription drug deaths per 100,000 population). The greatest increase was for oxycodone (264.6%), alprazolam (Xanax) (233.8%), methadone (79.2%), hydrocodone (34.9%), and morphine (26.2%). (The death rate for heroin decreased 62.2% between 2003 and 2009. The death rate for cocaine increased between 2003 and 2007 but then decreased 39.1% between 2007 and 2009.)

Prescription drugs were involved in 76.1% of all drug overdose deaths, 33.9% involved illicit drugs, and 10.0% involved both prescription and illicit drugs. Unintentional drug overdose deaths represented 85.9% of the drug overdose deaths from 2003 to 2009; 11.1% were suicides. The number of drug deaths involving prescription drugs was four times the number involving illicit drugs by 2009 (about 8 drug overdose deaths per day in 2009).

Beginning in 2007, Florida experienced an increase of hundreds of “pain clinics” that prescribed large amounts of oxycodone and alprazolam that ended up being used for non-medical purposes. People came from out-of-state (mainly the Appalachian states) to Florida to obtain these and other prescription medications and then return to their own states to re-sale the drugs. In 2009, Florida passed legislation to curb the perceived problem by establishing more stringent licensing requirements for the pain management clinics, limiting the quantity that could be obtained when customers paid in cash, and requiring tamper-resistant drug prescription forms. The results of the 2009 legislation is not yet known. 

Are Florida’s Numbers Unique?

The Office of the State Medical Examiner in Kentucky reported the number of deaths involving oxycodone in Kentucky doubled from 2007 to 2009 and the number of deaths involving alprazolam increased tenfold.

Source: CDC

Unscrupulous doctors and fake pain management clinics that prescribe or provide certain controlled prescription medications that are known to be subject to abuse or misuse, for medically unnecessary purposes or in quantities that are greater than required, are feeding the illicit prescription drugs black market and are adding to people’s addictions to pain and other medications. Prescribing certain medications under certain circumstances, and not properly following patients on certain medications, may be medical malpractice negligence and may result in injuries or death. If you suspect that a prescribing medical care provider has been negligent, visit our website to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your local area who may be able to assist you with a possible medical malpractice claim. You may also reach us toll free at 800-295-3959. Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.

This entry was posted on Monday, July 18th, 2011 at 10:19 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


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