The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports an alarming jump in overdoses from prescription pain killers. Specifically, emergency department (ED) visits for the abuse of opioid analgesics rocketed 111% from 2004 to 2008. This reflects a rise from 144,644 in 2004 to 305,885 in 2008. The highest numbers of ED visits were recorded for oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone.

“These increases in nonmedical use of pharmaceuticals suggest that previous prevention measures, such as provider and patient education and restrictions on use of specific formulations, have not been adequate. Given the societal burden of the problem, additional interventions are urgently needed, such as more systematic provider education, universal use of state prescription drug monitoring programs by providers, the routine monitoring of insurance claims information for signs of inappropriate use, and efforts by providers and insurers to intervene when patients use drugs inappropriately … . This report also reinforces the value of timely, population-based national surveillance for nonmedical use of drugs, which can be used to assess the effect of such interventions.”


MMWR – June 18, 2010;59;705-9.

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