Increases in Unintentional Overdose Deaths Involving Opioid Analgesics
Mirror Rise in Per Capita Sales of These Drugs
Sales of opioidanalgesics, such as oxycodoneand hydrocodone, have increased more than 600% since 1997, according to data from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Opioidanalgesic sales increased from 96 milligrams per person in 1997 to 698 milligrams per person in 2007. During the same time period, the number of unintentional deaths involving opioidanalgesics quadrupled, from 2,901 in 1999 to 11,499 in 2007 (the most recent year for which data are available). The increase in deaths and sales are highly correlated (r=0.99), supporting previous research1showing a strong, statistically significant correlation between states with the highest drug-poisoning mortality rates and states with the highest overall per capita sales of opioidanalgesics. These findings suggest that the increased sales of opioidanalgesics over the past decade may have inadvertently contributed to increases in opioidanalgesic overdose deaths.