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."
JAMA article (Subscription required)
Published in Physician's First Watch February 20, 2013