Opioids Play a Role in Most Pharmaceutical Overdose Deaths


By Kelly Young

Opioids play a "predominant role" in pharmaceutical overdose deaths, according to a research letter published in JAMA.

Using 2010 national data from death certificates, researchers found that most (58%) drug overdose deaths involved pharmaceutical drugs. The drugs most commonly implicated in overdose deaths were opioids (75%), benzodiazepines (29%), antidepressants (18%), and antiepileptic and antiparkinsonism drugs (8%). In overdose deaths related to other drugs, opioids were often used in combination, which is why the percentages exceed 100.

The authors say these results likely underestimate the problem and conclude: "Tools such as prescription drug monitoring programs and electronic health records can help clinicians to identify risky medication use and inform treatment decisions, especially for opioids and benzodiazepines."

LINK(S):

JAMA article (Subscription required)

Published in Physician's First Watch February 20, 2013


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