A recent study published by the CDC has confirmed some things we have long suspected. According to the study, 46 people die each and every day from overdoses of prescription “painkillers”, referring to either opioid or narcotic pain relievers. In 31% of these cases, benzodiazepine was also cited as a contributing cause.
The study also highlighted that close to 259 million prescriptions were written for painkillers in the United States, which translates to almost 83 prescriptions per 100 US residents. Of these prescriptions, extended-release medications accounted for 12.5%, which include both OxyContin and MS Contin formulations. Additionally, there were almost 38 benzodiazepine prescriptions per 100 US residents written.
An interesting aspect of the study is which geographic areas had the highest volume of prescriptions written. The southern portion of the United States leads the way in terms of both opioid and benzodiazepine prescribing. Alabama, Tennessee, and West Virginia are the three top states in the region for overprescribing for both opioids and benzodiazepines. However, the Northeast region (Pennsylvania, New York) leads the way for both extended-release and high-dose opioid prescriptions.
This study may state information which is not new, but it continues to spotlight the epidemic the United States has with opioid and benzodiazepine usage. With the continued release of new and more potent opioids, such as Zohydro and Targiniq ER, these rates will only grow higher in the years to come.
More information on this study can be found at:
You can also read about the decline in deaths due to drug overdoses in the state of Florida secondary to policy changes:
Pharmacy Times 2014. Aimee Simone “Opioids, Benzodiazepines Overprescribed Across the United States”. www.pharmacytimes.com