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Many states lagging in efforts to curb prescription drug misuse, says report

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 10 October 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6116
  1. Michael McCarthy
  1. 1Seattle

Many states have been slow to implement programs and policies that can help curb an ongoing epidemic of prescription drug misuse in the United States, a new report has said.1

The report was prepared by Trust for America’s Health, a non-profit, non-partisan group based in Washington, DC that focuses on disease prevention.

Sales of prescription painkillers in the US quadrupled from 1999 to 2010, as has the number of prescription drug overdoses, which now cause more than 16 000 deaths a year, more than those due to heroin and cocaine combined, the report noted.

It found that prescription overdose rates vary widely across the country. Appalachia and the Southwest had the highest prescription drug overdose death rates, and the Midwestern states the lowest. West Virginia had an overdose death rate of 28.9 per 100 000 people, up 605% from 1999 and the highest in the nation, while North Dakota had the lowest rate of 3.4 per 100 000.

From 1999 to 2010, overdose death rates quadrupled in four states (Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, and West Virginia), tripled in 10 states, and doubled in 29 more, the report said. The mean rate among all the states was 13 per 100 000 in 2010, double the average rate of six per 100 000 seen in 1999.

As …

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