Prescription Painkiller Deaths Continue to Rise

Prescription Painkiller Deaths Continue to Rise

A new report released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shown that overdose deaths from prescription painkillers are still rising. According to the report, deaths due to painkiller overdose continue to rise but have slowed down.

The agency reported that deaths due to prescription painkillers have risen by 18% every year from 1999 through 2006. But from 2007 through 2011, the figures have climbed by only 3%. In 2011, painkiller overdoses accounted for about 17,000 deaths.

Deaths from prescription painkiller overdose are a cause for concern as the numbers are gradually increasing since the 1990s. Before CDC's Tuesday report, the agency has accounted that overdoses from prescription painkillers had tripled in last two decades. More than 15,500 people have died in the US in 2009 from overdoses of prescription painkillers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised to use less methadone, used medically as an analgesic. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had released an order in 2006 whereby doctors were asked to be more discerning when giving methadone to patients. Manufacturers of methadone decided to limit the distribution of drug in 2008.

According to researchers, several states are making it legal to take marijuana, often consumed for its psychoactive and physiological effects, for medicinal purposes could be the reason of Tuesday's report.

A research by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center in August showed that states which have made it legal to take marijuana have about 25% fewer painkiller overdose deaths than other states that have not passed the law. There are about 23 states where medical marijuana is legal.

According to National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse, depressed people and children are at a risk for drug overdose.

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