46 People Die Every Day from Prescription Pain Killers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta recently published in their VitalSigns online report an article expressing concerns about opioid pain killer prescriptions in the United States.

46 – Each day, 46 people die from an overdose of prescription pain killers in the United States.

259 M – Healthcare providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for painkillers in 2012, enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills.

10 – 10 of the highest prescribing states for painkillers or in the South. Southern states that had the most prescriptions per person for painkillers are Alabama, Tennessee and West Virginia. Georgia falls in the middle with 91 pain killer prescriptions for 100 people. Nearly 22 times as many prescriptions were written for oxymorphone (a specific type of pain killer) in Tennessee as were written in Minnesota.

“Prescription pain killers” refers to opioid or narcotic pain relievers, including drug such as Vicodin, OxyContin and methadone and Opana.

The CBC asked the question “What might be causing this?”

They conclude that health providers in different parts of the country don’t agree on when to use prescription pain killers and how much to prescribe.

They conclude that some of the increased demand for prescription pain killers is from people who use them nonmedically, sell them or get them from multiple prescribers at the same time. They also state that many states report problems from high-volume pain clinics (so-called Pill Mills) that prescribe large quantities of painkillers to people who don’t need them medically.

The article continues to state that “Data suggests that where healthcare providers practice influences how they prescribe. Higher prescribing of painkillers is associated with more overdose death. More can be done at every level to prevent overprescribing while ensuring patient’s access to say effective pain treatment.“

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