Drug overdose deaths increased for the 11th consecutive year in 2010, and most of those deaths were accidents involving addictive painkillers, according to new federal data. In 2010, there were 38,329 drug overdose deaths nationwide, and medicines – mostly prescription drugs – were involved in nearly 60 percent of overdose deaths, surpassing deaths from illicit narcotics, according to a study by the CDC published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Opioid drugs such as OxyContin and Vicodin were the biggest problem, contributing to 3 out of 4 medication overdose deaths.
Last month, the FDA began considering whether more controls need to be placed on opioid prescribing. The agency is also considering reclassifying hydrocodone-containing painkillers like Vicodin from Schedule III drugs to the more restrictive Schedule II.