Deaths from Overdoses of Prescription Opiates Continue to Rise

Despite efforts to reduce the number of deaths from overdoses of prescription drugs, the rate continues to rise. In 2009 and 2010, more people died from overdoses than from auto accidents, and preliminary data from 2011 indicates that prescription drug overdose remains a serious problem in the United States. A study by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) found that drugs like Oxycodone and Vicodin alone caused 16,651 fatal overdoses in 2010 — 43 percent of all fatal overdoses.

CDC director Tom Frieden had hoped that educational campaigns and enforcement programs against patients and doctors who misuse prescription drugs would turn the tide, but it has not helped. The U.S. government is now looking for other ways to make these drugs harder to get and limit the quantities available to patients.

One such plan comes from the Food and Drug Administration, which is considering a proposal to limit doses of painkillers that can be legally prescribed and cap their use to 90 days or less for people who do not have cancer. However, the fact that the proposal contains an exception for people who suffer from “severe” pain may take the teeth out of that law.

California has a prescription drug monitoring program, called CURES, but it is not used proactively to find problematic physicians. State legislators are considering increasing funding for CURES and having investigators look for patterns of excessive prescriptions. For example, an analysis carried out by the Los Angeles Times of coroners’ records showed that among a group of 71 doctors, several had lost a dozen patients or more.

If you or a loved one takes Oxycodone and Vicodin, you should be aware of the dangers. These drugs make some people’s lives bearable, but at the same time have ended many others. Like any drug, you should take the lowest effective dose for the shortest time possible.

If you or a family member have overdosed or were otherwise harmed by a prescription, you need effective legal representation from a highly qualified

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