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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.

Your thoughts?





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3 responses to “CDC Releases Alarming Statistics About Deaths from Pharmaceutical Use”

  1. john polifronio says:

    I’m seeing more and more of these aricles on the subject of dangerous and excessive opiate use. Let me suggest, that DOSE be mentioned as an overwhelmingly important factor in these pieces. Of course people are taking painkillers, they have tremendous pain, what do you expect? The problem is that they’re taking too much, 1) because it’s profitable to the pharmaceutical houses, 2) because it makes less work for the medical profession, rather than looking for and finding root causes of the pain.
    Please, I beg you, tell us what are acceptable levels and doses of the use of these drugs, that will not harm our health and will not induce addiction. A couple of years ago, I developed a serious cellulitis infection in my left leg, requiring hospitalization for about 3 weeks, included intravenous anti-biotics, and, because the pain was devastating, I was gven large doses of vicodin. I was taking 6 or 7 vicodin daily, and it was just barely enough. On a couple of days, I begged the med personnel for more vicodin. Apparently, the time spent in the hospital and the vicodin dose was not enough to create the slghtest addiction. I understand that appropriate doses of these drugs varies for many reasons, but some general guidelines can be provided.

  2. Roberta says:

    Thank you for bring this issue to consumers. I had a heart attack and a 3 way by pass 4 1/2 years ago. I was put on Simvastatin for high cholesterol. My husband has been taking it for years. After 6 months of taking the drug, I had horrible side effects and spent 15 hours a day sleeping, with memory loss. I told my Dr. I was not going to take it any more, and started doing research. I got my self on a low cholesterol diet and smoothies. My next blood test showed my cholesterol below normal. 4 years later I developed severe epigastric pain. A liver panel blood test showed all my liver enzymes were very elevated. I have not had any alchohal in 36 years. I am a recovering alchoholic. I was diagnosed with having Auto Immune Hepatitis, and told it was curable with Prednisone, a steroid. After 2 months of 40 mg. a day, I had lost my memory, balance and again was sleeping 20 hours a day. I started doing research and found on that only in women, simvastatin causes auto immune diseases. I stopped the Prednisone, which is supposed to be tapered. At one point my husband had to hand feed me as I layed on the sofa. I had no balance and to this day I am still recovering my memory. I use herbal medicines for liver detox. and so far I have had normal blood studies. My Dr. wanted me to take a different drug, which upon research had more side effects then the Prednisone. Not all people are sensitive to the same drugs as I was, just beware. I’m embarrased to say, I am an RN with 46 years of experience. I had been healthy and not taken many drugs in my life. THIS ARTICLE COMES FROM GOD. DO YOUR RESEARCH AND LEARN TO SAY NO.