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A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that the cases of overdose deaths due to prescription painkillers has continued to increase but their pace has slowed down in the recent years.
The new report was released by CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics on Tuesday.
According to the health agency, the overdose deaths from such drugs rose by 18 percent each year between 1999 and 2006. But they increased by only three percent between 2007 and 2011.
The deaths from overdose of prescription painkiller have conventionally been high and the steadily rising number of cases since the 1990s has been a cause of big concern for the health experts and researchers.
According to the CDC officials, the slower pace of overdose deaths is due to less usage of methadone, a prominent drug used by heroin users to kick the habit and also prescribed as a painkiller.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had in 2006 asked the doctors and medical professionals to be more judicious while prescribing methadone and the drug makers had in 2008 agreed to keep a check on their distribution in large volumes.
The deaths from intentional drug overdoses were 41,340 in 2011. Among the drugs that contributed to nearly half of poisonings included opioid-analgesic pain relievers, like hydrocodone, morphine, and oxycodone. The death rate caused by opioid-analgesic poisoning nearly quadrupled between 1999 and 2011.
Experts , meanwhile, believe that the another important reason playing crucial role in causing overdose deaths is the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes by more and more states. Medical marijuana is legal across 23 states.
People suffering from depression or those having suicidal thoughts and children are at high risk for drug overdose, said a report by the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse.