Drug fatalities increased 3% in 2010, driven largely by prescription painkillers such as OxyContin and Vicodin. The latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that overdose deaths involving prescription painkillers rose to 16,651 in 2010, comprising 43% of all fatal overdoses, according to this article citing the CDC’s research. The article quotes CDC director Tom Frieden as saying about the prescription drug addiction epidemic:
“While most things are getting better in the health world, this isn’t. It’s a big problem, and it’s getting worse.”
“The data supporting long-term use of opiates for pain, other than cancer pain, is scant to nonexistent. These are dangerous drugs. They’re not proven to have long-term benefit for non-cancer pain, and they’re being used to the detriment to hundreds of thousands of people in this country.”
In February, the CDC found that drug overdose deaths increased for the 11th consecutive year in 2010, and that most of those deaths were accidents involving addictive painkillers.
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.