Intended for healthcare professionals


Obama outlines plan to curb prescription drug and heroin misuse

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 22 October 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h5656
  1. Michael McCarthy
  1. 1Seattle

President Barack Obama has announced a new national initiative to curtail the United States’ epidemic of prescription drug and heroin misuse. Obama announced the initiative on 21 October at a community forum in Charleston, West Virginia, the state hardest hit by the epidemic.

In recent years the US has seen the number of deaths from overdose more than double, from 6.0 per 100 000 population in 1999 to 13.8 per 100 000 in 2013 or about 44 000 a year. Roughly half these deaths are due to misuse of prescription drugs, including opioid analgesics, sedatives, and stimulants. In West Virginia the overdose death rate is more than twice the national average, at 33.5 per 100 000 population.

“More Americans …

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