Prescription Drug Overdoses Increase US Hospital Admissions

8 April 2010 (Last Updated April 8th, 2010 18:30)

Many Americans are visiting the hospital due to poisoning by powerful prescription painkillers, sedatives and tranquilizers, a new report has found. US hospital admissions due to poisoning by prescription opioids, sedatives and tranquilizers rose from approximately 43,000 to about 71,0

Many Americans are visiting the hospital due to poisoning by powerful prescription painkillers, sedatives and tranquilizers, a new report has found.

US hospital admissions due to poisoning by prescription opioids, sedatives and tranquilizers rose from approximately 43,000 to about 71,000 between 1999 and 2006, an increase of 65% and about double the increase observed in hospitalizations for poisoning by other drugs and medicines.

Researchers believe the increasing availability of powerful prescription drugs and attitudes toward their use could be behind the rise in poisoning by prescription painkillers, sedatives and tranquilizer.

Accidental or unintentional poisoning by opioids, sedatives and tranquilizers increased by 37% during the seven-year study period, while unintentional poisonings by other substances increased by just 21%.

The study, reported by Reuters Health, was conducted on 10,000 adults who had received at least three opioid prescriptions within 90 days to treat chronic pain such as back pain, out of which 51 experienced at least one overdose and six died as a result.