More in US die each year from prescription narcotics than car crashes, guns, suicide




The suicide statement is misleading. If you classify the prescription drug suicides as only suicide (which you should if you want to compare them) then that value is higher than the accidental prescription drug deaths. The same applies to car accidents: if you want to compare accidental prescription overdoses, then the car crash deaths lead.


The companies have continued to promote the use of narcotics for chronic pain even though doing so is "unsupported by competent scientific evidence," the suit contends.

So, these counties feel that the chronic pain sufferers can just live their lives in unrelenting pain, as best they can? That doesn't seem acceptable.


The approach to prescription drugs in this country was a major culture shock for me. They dish them out like sweets. It's as if people feel they didn't get value for money from seeing a doctor if they don't get some drugs.

Had root canal work? Here, take as much vicodin as you like!


It sounds like the allegation is that opioid pain killers are not safe and effective treatments for chronic pain as used in the US currently, and that the pharmacutical industry has deliberately encouraged their over-perscription and misled doctors and patients about the risks. Regardless of whether that claim is actually true, characterizing it as telling people in pain to stuff themselves is rather disingenuous at best.


Some kind of check to prevent a patient visiting multiple doctors to obtain multiple prescriptions seems fairly essential.


This article has a great summary of relative risk:
You Are More Likely to Be Killed By Boring, Mundane Things than Terrorism | The Big Picture

It covers prescription drug deaths, medical errors, along with all of the other mundane ways to die.


Third highest cause of death?

"Medical error."


Anybody have a link to stats on prescription narcotic deaths? I'm seeing a few sources that put car crashes and alcohol as more common causes:,


Dad has chronic back pain from a car accident years ago. He has tried almost everything, from acupuncture to chiropractic to heavy pain killers. He gets some relief from the other treatments, but there are days when nothing but opiates will help. There has to be a reasonable way for people in pain to get relief, and if narcotics are the only thing that assist with pain control, access to them.


I think that this is the source:
Drug Poisoning Deaths in the United States, 1980–2008
Products - Data Briefs - Number 81 - December 2011


I'm a chronic pain patient, but here in Colorado and I have to go to a specialist for these types of drugs. I have to sign a contract with the doctor to take them exactly as prescribed, and I'm piss tested regularly to make sure I'm really taking them and not selling them off, and they can randomly ask for me to bring in my supply for counting, plus a lot of other rules. So they are not thrown at people like candy here. The study doesn't mention if the deaths are from legal sources, or suicide or OD situations. True it's a big problem but they have really cracked down on them here.


Remember that many pills for pain also contain acetaminophen which can intensify and increase adverse reactions.


Yep. I really wonder how many of the accidental deaths are due to acetaminophen and not the opiod itself. You have to take a lot of opioid pain meds to OD, but a little extra tylenol and you're a dead duck. I also wonder how many of the accidental deaths are due to drug cocktails and not solely due to opioids (many CNS depressants can combine with opioids to basically suffocate the user).

And I'd like to add that its not easy most places to get opioids for pain, ESPECIALLY for women. For some reason many doctors treat women's pain as bullshit while respecting men's pain. The more things change...

There are certainly many black market sources, and cracking down on legit doctors providing legit care to patients in serious need is no way to fight "the drug war". The vast majority of opioid addicts get their pills from the black market anyway (generally its only the very wealthy that have access to "Dr Feelgood" type doctors), so cracking down on doctors is a really stupid way to reduce deaths.

Millions of Americans take these drugs everyday, so the idea that few of those are dying, some of them intentionally, is some kind of scourge and represents an irresponsible drug industry just doesn't add up. I'm the first to rail against big pharma, but the fact is that most opioids sold in the US are sold as generics anyway, and opioids for most people are the only thing that works for severe pain. Big pharma doesn't have to push this stuff, it sells itself.

I know that some communities, notably those that are severely poor in places like West Virginia, have epidemics of pain pill abuse going on. But again, the cure for this type of self-medication is economic development, not cracking down with law enforcement. People living in extreme poverty with no hope of a better life turn to substances for relief. Wouldn't you? Its long past time for the fainting nancys to offer real suggestions for the problem of poverty and addiction. Law enforcement just compounds the problems of people in these circumstances.


As opposed to what? In pain? Suck it up, Nancy Boy.


You don't need opiates for root canal work. At least not as the default option. Hell, you don't need 'em for wisdom teeth removal. Or maybe I'm just a double hard bastard.

Source: British teeth.


Yes, I am pretty sure a large fraction of the deaths are due to acetaminophen overdose, possibly driven by the addictive nature of the opiate. Alcohol is also a major contributing factor as people don't realize how serious that particular cocktail of drugs interact. I wouldn't be surprised if a good fraction of them are people who have half a dozen vicoden left over from surgery or whatever, then when they injure themselves and the first tylenol doesn't cut it they decide to kick it up a notch, and end up doubling down on the acetaminophen.


Well I haven't had either of those two things, so I don't know. I do live in chronic pain though.


You live in a country with OTC codeine, I believe, which is an opiate. None here, not even toradol. Just some other NSADs and acetaminophen.


Thanks for pointing out the irony of putting APAP in opioids.

That "the man" puts a legal over the counter poison in a beneficial narcotic to prevent abuse is a prime example of the insanity of the war on drugs.