Poisoning by Prescription Drugs Soars

MORGANTOWN, W.Va., April 6 (UPI) — Hospitalizations and deaths linked to prescription drug misuse have reached “epidemic proportions,” a researcher said.

Dr. Jeffrey H. Coben of the West Virginia University School of Medicine and colleagues studied poisonings by prescription drugs from 1999 to 2006.

Their study covered drug poisonings that were diagnosed as intentional, unintentional or undetermined.

The study, scheduled to be published in the May issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that hospitalizations for poisoning by prescription opioids, sedatives and tranquilizers increased by 65 percent.

The increase in hospitalizations for poisoning by methadone increased by 400 percent and poisonings by benzodiazepines, such as Valium, increased 39 percent.

Hospitalizations for poisoning by barbiturates, such as codeine, decreased 41 percent and hospitalizations for poisoning by antidepressants decreased 13 percent.

“Deaths and hospitalizations associated with prescription drug misuse have reached epidemic proportions,” Coben said in a statement.

“Prescription medications are just as powerful and dangerous as other notorious street drugs, and we need to ensure people are aware of these dangers and that treatment services are available for those with substance abuse problems.”

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