New data shows the number of emergency room visits that stem from misusing, or abusing, prescription drugs has almost doubled over the last five years in the U.S., reports the New York Times. At the same time, the number of visits from illicit drugs (for example, cocaine and heroin) has barely changed. In fact, emergency room visits due to prescription drugs have exceeded those from illicit drugs for three years now. There were about 1.2 million visits to emergency rooms due to pharmaceutical drugs in 2009, compared to 627,000 in 2004, researchers found. Visits due to adverse reactions to drugs that were taken according to prescription weren’t included. The Drug Enforcement Administration recently organized the first national prescription drug take-back program that saw thousands of people drop off old, unused drugs at drop-off points.
Looking for more?
Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.