Oxy to blame for jump in Canadian deaths, study finds

OxyContin is the driving force behind a five-fold increase in opiod-related deaths over the last two decades, a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal has found.

Among the study’s key findings:

* From 1991 to 2007, annual prescriptions for opioids increased from 458 to 591 per 1000 individuals
* Opioid-related deaths doubled from 13.7 per million in 1991 to 27.2 per million in 2004
* Prescriptions of oxycodone increased by 850 percent between 1991 and 2007
* Long-acting oxycodone was associated with a 41 percent increase in overall opioid-related mortality
* The manner of death was deemed unintentional by the coroner in 54.2 percent of cases and undetermined
in 21.9 percent of cases.

Interestingly, the study also found that use of health care services in the month before death was common:
of the 3066 patients for whom data on physician visits were available, 66.4 percent had visited a physician
in the month before death; of the 1095 patients for whom individual-level prescribing data were available, 56.1 percent had filled a prescription for an opioid in the month before death.

Read Watchdog’s prior coverage of the Canadian OxyContin crisis here.

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