CDC Releases Alarming Statistics About Deaths from Pharmaceutical Use
For the 11th year in a row, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting an increase in deaths related to prescription drug use, many of them involving addictive painkillers.
Drug overdose death rates in the United States have more than tripled since 1990, with no sign of tapering off. While some states have made efforts to reduce deaths from pharmacuetical drugs, the fact remains that doctors are prescribing painkilling drugs at a rate we’ve never seen before. According to the CDC’s website, “deaths from prescription painkillers have reached epidemic levels in the past decade.”
Here are a few more alarming pharmacuetical drug-related statistics released by the CDC :
- In 2008, only 14,800 deaths were caused by prescription drugs. In 2012, just two years later, 38,329 Americans died from overdosing on prescriptions drugs or prescription drug combinations. Americans more than doubled deaths by prescription use in just two years.
- A life is lost to prescription drug malpractice and/or misuse every 14 minutes in the U.S.
- The highest fatalities were found among people in their 40s.
- Overdose deaths from painkillers tripled between 2000 and 2008
- Nearly half a million emergency department visits in 2009 were due to people misusing or abusing prescription painkillers.
- Emergency department visits for prescription painkiller abuse or misuse have doubled in the past 5 years to nearly half a million.
- The quantity of prescription painkillers sold to pharmacies, hospitals, and doctors’ offices was 4 times larger in 2010 than in 1999. Enough prescription painkillers were prescribed in 2010 to medicate every American adult around-the-clock for one month.
A related interactive infographic shows the disturbingly steady increase of drug-related deaths from 2000-2008. In 2000, nearly 50% of U.S. states had fewer than 6% occurrences. By 2008, not a single state in our country fell below 6.45%, with West Virginia and New Mexico topping the charts with more than 26% of deaths per 100,000 residents being a drug-related fatality.
A groundbreaking Los Angeles Times investigation last year uncovered just how deadly irresponsible prescribing practices can be and how fatal the negligent use of painkillers has become. Below is an “at a glance” look at the investigation, but I recommend you swing over and read it in more detail–it’s quite interesting.
So what could be done to curb the ever-rising death toll associated with pharmaceuticals?
One suggested initiative is to educate physicians on how to safely prescribe medications, but we have to wonder how effective such an effort would be, with the carrots of monetary compensation and other “perks” that are dangled in front of doctors by the pharmaceutical companies.