U.S. poisonings surge, overdoses to blame

By Balzafire · Aug 5, 2010 · Updated Aug 5, 2010 ·
  1. Balzafire
    This chart was published by the CDC today in its journal, “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.” It shows a decline in motor vehicle accidents, a leveling off of firearm accidents, and a surge in poisonings.

    Here’s what the CDC said about the numbers:

    In 2007, the three leading causes of injury deaths in the United States were motor vehicle traffic, poisoning, and firearms.

    The age-adjusted death rate for poisoning more than doubled from 1979 to 2007, in contrast to the age-adjusted death rates for motor vehicle traffic and firearms, which decreased during this period.

    Poisoning deaths include those resulting from drug overdose, those resulting from other misuse of drugs, and those associated with solid or liquid biologic substances, gases or vapors, or other substances such as pesticides or unspecified chemicals.

    So what’s behind the surge? I dug a bit deeper into the CDC’s archives to find out. How are poisonings broken down? Here’s the data:

    From the CDC’s fact sheet on poisonings:

    In 2006, 27,531 (74%) of the 37,286 poisoning deaths in the United States were unintentional…

    96% of unintentional poisoning deaths were caused by drugs (CDC 2009). Opioid pain medications were most commonly involved, followed by cocaine and heroin (Warner et al. 2009).

    In 2000, poisonings led to $26 billion in medical expenses and made up 6% of the economic costs of all injuries in the United States. (Finkelstein et al. 2006).

    Two more charts say it all: (See thumbnails below)

    How we (Florida) compare to the rest of the United States:

    This is obviously an incredibly serious public health issue. So what should be done? Time to pull oxycodone from the market? If that were to happen, would people looking for a fix just switch to other drugs?

    by Stacey Singer

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