Nonprescription medication abuse underestimated

Nonprescription medications are just as likely a cause of poisoning as prescription drugs, according to a new study by Timothy Wiegand, M.D. from the University of Rochester Medical Center in the US and colleagues. Their work, which analyzes the data from the second annual report of the Toxicology Investigators Consortium (ToxIC), is published online in Springer's Journal of Medical Toxicology.

In 2010, the American College of Medical Toxicology established its case registry, ToxIC, which acts as a real-time to identify current poisoning trends, and is a powerful research tool in medical toxicology. All cases evaluated by medical toxicologists at participating institutions in the US are entered into the database. Wiegand and colleagues analyzed the 2011 data from 28 participating centers.

They found that of the 10,392 cases entered into the registry, 53 percent involved patients in emergency departments. The most common reason for consultation with a toxicologist was for pharmaceutical overdoses, which occurred in 48 percent of patients - a combination of intentional overdoses in 37 percent of patients and unintentional in 11 percent of patients. Sleeping pills, muscle relaxants, non-opioid pain relievers (such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen), opioid pain relievers and antidepressants were the most common medications accounting for the consultation.

In addition, there were 35 deaths from medication overdose in 2011, ten of which were attributed to opioids and eight to non-opioid pain relievers. The researchers also observed that cases involving , such as psychoactive "" and synthetic cannabinoids, increased substantially from 2010 to 2011.

Dr. Wiegand concludes: "Much of the current concerns about abuse have centered on opioids, and while are certainly of greater concern in regard to morbidity and mortality related to overdose, the data reported here suggest that emphasis should also be placed on . Our data also suggest that while medication abuse is a major problem, restricting our concerns to prescription drug abuse fails to acknowledge the major contribution of nonprescription agents to healthcare resource utilization."

More information: Wiegand TJ et al (2012). The Toxicology Invetigators Consortium Case registry - the 2011 experience. Journal of Medical Toxicology; DOI 10.1007/s13181-012-0264-9

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Suboxone is most effective in treating painkiller addiction

Nov 07, 2011

Individuals addicted to prescription painkillers are more likely to succeed in treatment with the aid of the medication buprenorphine-naloxone (Suboxone), report McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School researchers in today's ...

Opioid abuse linked to mood and anxiety disorders

Dec 13, 2011

Individuals suffering from mood and anxiety disorders such as bipolar, panic disorder and major depressive disorder may be more likely to abuse opioids, according to a new study led by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg ...

Recommended for you

Health care M&A leads global deal surge

15 hours ago

In a big year for deal making, the health care industry is a standout. Large drugmakers are buying and selling businesses to control costs and deploy surplus cash. A rising stock market, tax strategies and ...

US approves new, hard-to-abuse hydrocodone pill (Update)

Nov 20, 2014

U.S. government health regulators on Thursday approved the first hard-to-abuse version of the painkiller hydrocodone, offering an alternative to a similar medication that has been widely criticized for lacking ...

Soaring generic drug prices draw Senate scrutiny

Nov 20, 2014

Some low-cost generic drugs that have helped restrain health care costs for decades are seeing unexpected price spikes of up to 8,000 percent, prompting a backlash from patients, pharmacists and now Washington ...

Only half of patients take their medications as prescribed

Nov 20, 2014

The cost of patients not taking their medications as prescribed can be substantial in terms of their health. Although a large amount of research evidence has tried to address this problem, there are no well-established ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.