The numbers of deaths due to overdoses of prescription painkillers continue to rise but has slowed, according to a new report released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The report states that Prescription painkiller overdose deaths rose by 3 percent each year from 2007 to 2011, compared with 18 percent each year from 1999 through 2006. Opioids including hydrocodone, morphine and oxycodone were involved in 11,693 drug-poisoning deaths in 2011, up from 2,749 deaths in 1999.
The report noted benzodiazepines are involved in a growing number of opioid-related deaths. Benzodiazepines were involved in 31 percent of opioid-related deaths in 2011, up from 13 percent in 1999. The number of drug-poisoning deaths involving methadone, used to treat opioid dependency and pain, increased from 784 deaths in 1999 to 5,518 deaths in 2007 and then declined to 4,418 deaths in 2011.
Future government regulations and rules may continue this trend. The Drug Enforcement Administration is making painkillers that contain hydrocodone, such as Vicodin, Schedule II drugs, which means prescriptions will be limited to 30 days and doctors must write new prescriptions after that point. For the full story, click here.