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Prescription Drug Deaths Triple Since 1999

Agnus Dei Farrant |
November 2, 2011 | 11:49 a.m. PDT

Executive Producer

(Photo courtesy of Creative Commons).
(Photo courtesy of Creative Commons).
American deaths from prescription pain medication overdoses has skyrocketed in the past decade, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Tuesday.

"We're in the midst of an epidemic," CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden told CNN. "Narcotics prescribed by physicians kill 40 people per day."

In 2008, 15,000 people died from prescription overdoses - more than heroin and cocaine overdose deaths combined.

Approximately 4,000 people died of prescription painkiller overdoses in 1999.

According to the CDC, one in 20 people in the United States, ages 12 or older, used prescription painkillers without a prescription or just for the "high" they cause.

The abuse of the drugs caused nearly half a million emergency hospital visits in 2009.

Identifying prescription painkiller overdose higher-risk groups, the CDC reported that men are more likely to die from overdoses; middle-aged adults have the highest overdose rates; residents of rural counties are nearly twice as likely to overdose than large-city residents; and Caucasians and American Indian or Alaska natives are more likely to overdose.




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