The headline above is from a July 7, 2011 story in Bloomberg news. The article highlights just how large the problem of prescription drug abuse has become. The story notes that between 2003 and 2009, 76 percent of all overdose deaths in Florida implicated prescription medications. The Centers for Disease Control statistics suggest that Florida was averaging about eight prescription drug overdose deaths a day, which was four times higher than overdoses from illegal drugs.
Likewise on July 11, 2011, the Detroit Free Press also ran a story titled, "Prescription drug deaths soar in Michigan." This Michigan story reported that just as in Florida, more deaths occur from prescription drug overdoses than from heroin and cocaine combined. The Bloomberg article also noted that according to the US Centers for Disease Control, as of 2007, unintentional poisoning was the second leading cause of injury death in the US after automobile accidents, accounting for 29,846 deaths nationwide.
To further put this problem into perspective, the Bloomberg article reported that "By 2009, the number of deaths involving prescription drugs was four times the number involving illicit drugs." They also noted, "The number of annual deaths from lethal concentrations of prescription medicines increased 84 percent from 2003 to 2009, while deadly overdoses of illegal drugs fell 21 percent."
In the Detroit Free Press story, the facts mirror what is happening on a national front. Commenting on the increase seen in Michigan alone, Larry Scott, manager of the prevention section of Michigan's Bureau of Substance Abuse and Addiction stated, "We're seeing an alarming trend that continues to increase."
Dr. David Kloth, a spokesman for the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians commented, "Thirty thousand people a year are dying from prescription drug abuse in America; 10 years ago, it was half that."