CDC Launches Rx Overdose Website

An average of 44 people per day in the United States are dying from overdoses of prescription painkillers, and almost 7,000 people are treated in emergency departments every day for using these drugs in a manner other than as directed, according to CDC.

Seeking to stem what it calls the U.S. prescription painkiller overdose "epidemic," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has created a new website devoted entirely to prescription drug overdoses. The site marshals statistics about the overdose problem and states that since 1999, the amount of prescription painkillers prescribed and sold in the United States has nearly quadrupled, yet there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain Americans report. "Overprescribing leads to more abuse and more overdose deaths," according to CDC.

An average of 44 people per day in the United States are dying from overdoses of prescription painkillers, and almost 7,000 people are treated in emergency departments every day for using these drugs in a manner other than as directed, according to CDC.

CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden tweeted April 8 that the "more than 4-fold increase in opioid overdose deaths parallels the 4-fold increase in sales since 1999."

The website lists drugs frequently involved in prescription overdose deaths, including:

  • Hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin)
  • Oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin)
  • Oxymorphone (e.g., Opana)
  • Methadone (especially when prescribed for pain)

Information about solutions to the problem is available on the site. They include safe and informed prescribing practices, city and state efforts (such as regulating pain clinics, using systems to identify fraudulent prescriptions, and increasing access to naloxone), and prescription drug monitoring programs.

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