Study Explores Opioid Overdoses Among Pain Patients

A study of about 10,000 pain patients receiving opioid drugs found that 51 seriously overdosed during a 45-month period, and six died, WebMD reported Jan. 19.

Most patients who overdosed were receiving less than 100 mg of opioids daily, but the odds of overdosing were greater among those receiving higher daily doses.

Researchers noted that nonfatal overdoses were seven times more common than fatal overdoses. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that opiate-related deaths tripled between 1999 and 2006.

“The recent (opioid-related) mortality data from CDC has been sobering,” said researcher Michael Von Korff  of the Group Health Research Institute. “This study confirms that we need to be concerned about the full spectrum of patients.”

The study was published in the Jan. 19, 2010 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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