Surge in Calif. overdose deaths linked to doctors’ prescriptions

Doctors’ prescriptions are contributing to an alarming surge of drug overdose deaths in four southern California counties, according to an investigation by the Los Angeles Times. Reporters identified a total of 3,733 deaths from prescription drugs from 2006 through 2011 in Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura and San Diego counties. In 1,762 of those cases — 47% — drugs for which the deceased had a prescription were the sole cause or a contributing cause of death, reporters found.

Disturbingly, a group of 71 doctors wrote prescriptions for drugs that caused or contributed to 298 of those deaths: 17% of the total linked to doctors’ prescriptions, the Times says. But of those doctors, only four have been convicted of drug offenses in connection with their prescriptions. A fifth is awaiting trial on charges of second-degree murder in the overdose deaths of three patients – but the rest have never faced criminal prosecution over their practice of medicine, according to the Times.

About Erin Marie Daly

I’m a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. My book on prescription drug and heroin addiction was published in August 2014 by Counterpoint Press.
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