Prescription Drug Poisoning Shows Increase

Hospitalizations for poisoning by prescription opioids, sedatives and tranquilizers has increased by 65 percent from 1999 to 2006 in the U.S., according to study results published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

American Journal of Preventive Medicine

Poisoning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury and death in the country.

Researchers performed the study to determine whether the variability in the rate of sale of prescription opioid analgesics is related to the variability in the rates of drug poisoning mortality across the country in 2002.

The comprehensive study examined data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) on nationwide hospitalizations associated with prescription medications. Data on approximately 8 million hospitalizations per year is found in the NIS.

Researchers examined all poisonings by drugs, medicinal, and biological substances reported from 1999 to 2006. They were able to take note of whether the poisonings were diagnosed as intentional, unintentional, or undetermined. The majority of overdoses were classified as unintentional, but intentional overdoses increased substantially within this time frame as well. Unintentional poisonings from prescription opioids, sedatives, and tranquilizers increased by 37 percent, while intentional poisonings from these drugs rose by 130 percent.

Researchers observed that the largest increase (400 percent) in hospitalizations for poisoning for a specific drug was associated with methadone. Bensodiazepine poisoning increased by 39 percent. Hospitalizations for barbiturates decreased 41 percent and antidepressants hospitalizations decreased 13 percent.

Hospitalizations for poisoning by prescription opioids, sedatives and tranquilizers has increased by 65 percent from 1999 to 2006 in the U.S., according to study results published in the .