New study shows prescription drug deaths growing

Texas ranked 8th lowest in mortality

Author: Brian Mylar, Reporter, bmylar@ksat.com
Published On: Oct 07 2013 04:28:42 PM CDT
SAN ANTONIO -

A new report on prescription drug abuse in the U.S shows while it is an escalating problem, things are not too bad in Texas.

“Prescription Drug Abuse: Strategies to Stop the Epidemic,” by the group Trust for America's Health, found that prescription drug abuse is a major national problem.

The report showed prescription drug-related deaths now outnumber those from heroin and cocaine combined, and drug overdose deaths exceed motor vehicle-related deaths in 29 states.

Jeff Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health, said prescription drug abuse has quickly become a top public health concern.

“This  translates into about 50 Americans dying each day from prescription painkiller overdoses," Levi said.

Levi said researchers looked at drug abuse statistics in each state to determine how much drug abuse deaths had increased.

Texas fared pretty well compared to other states.

"In the past decade, drug overdose deaths in Texas have increased by 78 percent," Levi said.

That sounds pretty bad, but in some states, the rate quadrupled. Texas also has the eighth lowest drug overdose mortality rate and scored a respectable six out of 10 for strategies to prevent prescription drug abuse.

States are being urged to support prescription drug monitoring programs and efforts to identify patients who shop for doctors and doctors who are problem prescribers. And to identify patients in need of help.

After all, this is a costly problem.

"Prescription drug abuse costs the country an estimated $53.4 billion a year in lost productivity, medical costs and criminal justice costs," Levi said.

A full-scale response is being called for.

One other note: the sale of prescription painkillers has quadrupled in the past decade.

So has the number of deaths due to prescription pain medications.

For a list of recent stories Brian Mylar has done, click here.