Drug overdoses — largely fueled by the wild rise in prescription painkillers — are now killing more Americans per year than car accidents on U.S. highways, according to the CDC.
The American College of Physicians, one of America’s largest medical societies for doctors, announced on Monday its support of programs to cut back on the deadly dangers that sit in U.S. medicine cabinets.
Accidental overdoses from prescription painkillers have quadrupled in just a decade — from about 4,000 in 1999 to about 16,000 in 2010, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Experts say that one reason for the increase is that doctors are prescribing more Percocet, Vicodin and OxyContin — and that Americans can’t seem to stop taking them.
Almost all of abused pain medication starts as legitimate prescription medicine for diagnosed pain, according to the CDC.
A growing number of Americans become addicted and then buy leftover pills, get them from friends or relatives, or steal them from other medicine cabinets.
In Monday’s report, the doctors group supported the tougher rules that the Food and Drug Administration has suggested — some of which are coming — that may include fewer pills per prescription and mandatory visits to the doctor for refills on medication. Laws now exist in some states but the doctors group said it would like to see the rules become standardized and national.
Experts suggest that people get rid of prescription painkillers as well as other unused medications. Police departments have drop boxes where you can leave medication. Click here to find where.
When tossing medications, don’t put them in the trash or flush them down the toilet, experts said. Empty medicine bottles into a plastic bag and add water and coffee grounds, which make the medication unusable.