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Medical News & Perspectives
January 4, 2012

Scientists, Officials Eye Tools Aimed at Combating Abuse of Painkillers

JAMA. 2012;307(1):19-21. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1900

With more than 40 deaths per day in the United States resulting from an overdose of prescription opioid pain medications, misuse and abuse of such painkillers represents a serious and ongoing public health crisis, according to officials from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).

About 1.2 million emergency department visits in 2009 were related to misuse or abuse of pharmaceuticals, primarily opioid narcotics. That is a 98.4% increase in such events since 2004, noted a CDC report released in November (MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2011;60[43]:1487-1492). Such prescription drug–related emergency department visits now outnumber those involving illicit drugs like heroin and cocaine.