According to the findings of a new study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prescription painkiller overdose deaths from drugs like Vicodin and OxyContin remain on the rise in the United States, although the rate of growth has begun to slow in recent years. In the CDC report, released on September 16, the agency indicates that deaths from prescription drug overdoses in the U.S. nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2011. If you believe you have been adversely affected by side effects of a pharmaceutical drug, our consumer advocates can help. We are dedicated to protecting consumers harmed by dangerous medications, and can help put you in touch with a qualified drug injury attorney today.
In 1999, the CDC report stated, the number of deaths from prescription painkillers was 4,263, and by 2001, that number had increased dramatically to more than 17,000. By 2011, the number of overdose deaths, intentional or unintentional, resulted in more than 40,000 deaths, with more than 40% of the cases involving opioid analgesics or narcotic painkillers. According to the researchers, while the rate of overdose deaths increased overall, the rate of increase was faster from 1999 to 2006 – an average increase of 18% each year – and then slowed during the period of time from 2006 to 2011, to just 3% each year.
According to the CDC researchers, natural and semisynthetic painkillers, like morphine, oxycodone and hydrocodone, were attributed to nearly 12,000 overdose deaths in 2001, a dramatic increase from 2,700 deaths in 1999. The researchers also found that a class of pharmaceutical drugs known as benzodiazepines, which include Klonix and Xanax, was involved in close to one-third of the overdose deaths in 2011, compared to only 13% of the deaths in 1999. Drug overdose deaths involving synthetic painkillers, like fentanyl and propoxyphene, also increased significantly, from 730 in 1999 to 2,666 in 2011.
Drug overdose is the leading cause of death in the United States, and in 2012, the CDC issued a report indicating that prescription drug overdoses have reached epidemic proportions, killing someone in the United States every 19 minutes. Unfortunately, some of these drug overdoses are unintentional, and it has long been known that patients who accidentally take too much of the over-the-counter pain reliever Tylenol may have an increased risk of suffering liver damage or potentially deadly acetaminophen overdose. If you have lost a loved one to an accidental drug overdose, contact an experienced drug injury lawyer to explore your possible compensation options.