The numbers I referred to during the presentation were 116 million individuals in the U.S. suffering from chronic pain (more than those suffering from diabetes, cancer and heart disease combined). Deaths from prescription painkillers were estimated to be 16,451 in 2010 per the CDC. Another figure cited from the CDC was that doctors are currently writing more than 300 million prescriptions for painkillers every year.
Do the stats about Rx drug induced deaths include suicides, or are these separate?
JAMA published survey results on prescription overdose deaths in 2010 and stated “In 2010, there were 38,329 drug overdose deaths in the United States, 22,134 (57.7%) involved pharmaceuticals; 9,429 (24.6%) involved only unspecified drugs. Of the pharmaceutical-related overdose deaths, 16,451 (74.3%) were unintentional, 3,780 (17.1%) were suicides and 1,868 (8.4%) were of undetermined intent”.
Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, February 20, 2013, Vol 309, No. 7, p. 658
Are there any stats about deaths from motor vehicle accidents caused by drivers who were taking Rx painkillers?
The presence of all types of drugs in fatal crashes has increased 5% in the past five years, according to 2005-2009 data, compiled and analyzed for the first time by NHTSA. A first-ever drug analysis of drivers killed in car crashes found one in three tested positive for drugs in 2009, the Office of National Drug Control Policy reported. Of the 12,055 drivers tested in 2009, roughly 3,952 tested positive for drugs.
We have been testing only for cocaine and meth/amphetamines. Are more companies using the expanded drug panel on their insurance exam testing?
There are an increasing number of life insurance companies screening and/or ordering full drug screens (Drug 5 panel/Drug 8 panel) to identify illicit drug use. Those particular panels have been utilized in our industry for more than 20 years. The expanded drug panel is brand new and was developed in response to the rising problem of prescription drug misuse. This new panel offers lower, more sensitive opiate cutoffs to aid in identifying hydrocodone, oxycodone and other synthetic opiates in a urine specimen. The current Drug 5 and Drug 8 panels will not pick these drugs up. With the increase in prescription drug overdose deaths – resulting in an increase in mortality risk for life insurers – we expect insurance companies to begin utilizing this more sensitive assay and also to continue utilizing a prescription database product.
It was stated that Florida has the highest death rates from prescription overdoses. Do the studies show if this is more prevalent in the elderly population versus younger ages?
In 2010, New Mexico (27 per 100,000) actually had the highest death rate, with West Virginia coming in second (25.8 per 100,000). Florida came in 7th with death rates from prescription overdose at 16.5 per 100,000. Although I am unable to find age breakdown on deaths specifically for the state of Florida, overall U.S. prescription drug deaths are more prevalent in the 45 to 65 age range. Florida is, however, the state leading prescription painkiller sales at 3 times higher than the state with the lowest rate of sales.