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Am Fam Physician. 2007;76(6):892-894

CDC Releases Data on Deaths from Poisoning

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Published source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, February 9, 2007

Available at:

Poisoning from prescription or illicit drugs is one of the leading causes of death from unintentional injury in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed data from 1999 to 2004 and found that the annual deaths from poisoning had increased 62.5 percent (age-adjusted rate), from 12,186 deaths in 1999 to 20,950 deaths in 2004.

The number of women who died from poisoning increased by 103 percent; this increase was twice that seen in men. Poisoning deaths increased 75.8 percent among white persons, 113.6 percent in those living in the South, and 13.3 percent in persons 15 to 24 years of age. Persons 35 to 54 years of age accounted for 59.6 percent of poisoning deaths in 2004.

These data suggest that additional educational measures are needed and that regulatory measures should be more aggressive. The CDC notes that the trends in this report are related primarily to overdoses of prescription opioid analgesics and secondarily to cocaine and prescription sedative overdoses; they do not appear, however, to be related to heroin, methamphetamine, or other illicit drug use.

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