Prescription drug overdoses now claim more lives than heroin and cocaine combined, fueling a doubling of drug-related deaths in the United States over the last decade, according to a story in today’s Los Angeles Times by Scott Glover and Lisa Girdion entitled:“Legal Drugs, Deadly Outcome.”
“Health and law enforcement officials seeking to curb the epidemic have focused on how OxyContin,Vicodin, Xanax and other potent pain and anxiety medications are obtained illegally, such as through pharmacy robberies or when teenagers raid their parents’ medicine cabinets.” the authors state, adding that “Authorities have failed to recognize how often people overdose on medications prescribed for them by their doctors.
“A Los Angeles Times investigation has found that in nearly half of the accidental deaths from prescription drugs in four Southern California counties, the deceased had a doctor’s prescription for at least one drug that caused or contributed to the death.
“Reporters identified a total of 3,733 deaths from prescription drugs from 2006 through 2011 in Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura and San Diego counties.
“An examination of coroners’ records found that in 1,762 of those cases — 47%— drugs for which the deceased had a prescription were the sole cause or a contributing cause of death.A small cadre of doctors was associated with a disproportionate number of those fatal overdoses. Seventy-one — 0.1% of all practicing doctors in the four counties — wrote prescriptions for drugs that caused or contributed to 298 deaths. That is 17% of the total linked to doctors’ prescriptions.
For cull coverage, see Los Angeles Times by Scott Glover and Lisa Girdion entitled:“Legal Drugs, Deadly Outcome.”