Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Drug Diversion

Accidental prescription drug overdose first accounted for more deaths than deaths from cocaine and heroine in 2002, and the problem is growing, according to a report from the Coalition against Insurance Fraud.

Over 19,000 Americans died from accidental drug overdoses in 2004, making it the second leading cause of accidental death, behind only vehicular accidents. In terms of economic costs, drug diversion costs insurance companies more than $70 billion per year.

In looking for solutions to our society's most pressing drug problem, the report points to the effectiveness of state prescription monitoring programs that enable pharmacies and prescribing health care providers to access a patient's prescription records from a data base. Only half of states have such programs. The report points to additional steps that can be taken by insurers, pharmacists, doctors, and regulators to combat this form of drug abuse.

It needs to be taken seriously. Americans tend to get more concerned about illegal drug traffic, but all across the socio-economic spectrum prescription narcotic abuse is our most serious drug problem.

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