KEY POINTS from a recent paper by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Death from opioid pain relievers (like Tramadol and Vincodin) is an epidemic in the USA.
http://www.cdc.gov November 4, 2011 / 60(43);1487-1492)
Sales of opioid pain relievers quadrupled between 1999 and 2010.
Enough opioid pain relievers were prescribed last year to medicate every American adult with a dose of 5 mg of hydrocodone (Vicodin and others) taken every 4 hours for a month. Abuse of opioid pain relievers costs health insurers approximately $72.5 billion annually
In 2007, nearly 100 persons / day died of drug overdoses in the US. The death rate of 11.8 per 100,000 population in 2007 was roughly three times the rate in 1991. Prescription drugs have accounted for most of the increase in those death rates since 1999.
In 2009, 1.2 million emergency department (ED) visits (an increase of 98.4% since 2004) were related to misuse / abuse of pharmaceuticals. opioid pain relievers now account for more overdose deaths than heroin and cocaine combined.