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Opiate Overdoses Up Dramatically in Canada

posted 01:35 AM EST, Tue December 08, 2009
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Opiate Overdoses Up Dramatically in Canada © Photo Credit: Pink Sherbet Photography

The number of people in dying in Ontario Canada after overdosing on prescription medications has doubled since the 1990s.

In a report published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), research doctors describe Canadians as a nation of opiate users (only Americans and Belgians take more opioids per capita) and say that between 1991 and 2007:

  • The number of people dying from prescription opiate overdoses has doubled, from 13.7 per million in 1991 to 27.2 per million in 2007
  • Oxycodone use is up 850% and deaths from oxycodone are up 500%
  • About 2 of 3 people who overdosed had visited a doctor within the month for a prescription
  • The average overdose victim had seen a doctor 15 times in the year prior to death

Study author, Irfan Dhalla commented on  the results by saying, “I think physicians will be very surprised to learn just how many deaths occur from prescription opioids each year.” He says that physicians need to do a better job of intervening, saying that if people are visiting doctors 15 times a year for medications, that there are ample opportunities for health care workers to get involved

The provincial government has said that by the end of the month, it will limit the number of opiate pills it will pay for per prescription.

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