Author Affiliations: Departments of Epidemiology (Dr Alexander) and Health Policy and Management (Dr Webster) and Center for Gun Policy and Research (Dr Webster), Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland; Section of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Baltimore (Dr Alexander); Department of Pharmacy Practice, University of Illinois at Chicago School of Pharmacy (Dr Alexander); and Stefan P. Kruszewski, MD & Associates, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (Dr Kruszewski).
Prescription drugs, including amphetamines, opioids, and benzodiazepines, provide therapeutic value to millions of Americans. At the same time, there are increasing concerns about the skyrocketing rates of prescription abuse and overdose deaths. The annual number of fatal drug overdoses in the United States now surpasses the annual number of motor vehicle deaths, and overdose deaths attributable to prescription opioids—nearly 15 000 in 2008—exceed those attributable to cocaine and heroin combined.1
Alexander GC, Kruszewski SP, Webster DW. Rethinking Opioid Prescribing to Protect Patient Safety and Public Health. JAMA. 2012;308(18):1865-1866. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.14282