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Am J Prev Med. 2010 Oct;39(4):357-63. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2010.05.016.

Increase in unintentional medication overdose deaths: Oklahoma, 1994-2006.

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  • 1CDC, CDC/OWCD/CDD/PMR, 1600 Clifton Road NE, Mailstop E-92, Atlanta GA 30333, USA. epiercefı



During 1999-2006, rates of unintentional drug-related deaths increased 120% in the U.S.


This report describes demographics and trends of unintentional medication overdose deaths among Oklahoma residents to target prevention strategies.


Oklahoma medical examiner data regarding fatal unintentional poisonings involving at least one prescription or over-the-counter medication during 1994-2006 and opioid retail sales data during 1997-2006 were analyzed during 2008-2009 to determine demographic-specific rates of overdose deaths and changes in 3-year mean death rates.


A total of 2112 fatal unintentional medication overdoses were identified (4.7 deaths/100,000 population) involving a median of two substances/decedent. The highest fatality rates occurred among men (5.9/100,000) and people aged 35-54 years (11/100,000). Crude overdose death rates increased sevenfold during the investigation period, peaking at 11/100,000 in 2006. Death rates increased more for women (ninefold) than men (sixfold); rates among residents of rural counties increased more (eightfold) than urban county rates (sixfold). Leading drug types involved in fatalities were opioids and anxiolytics. The individual drugs contributing most frequently included methadone (31%); hydrocodone (19%); alprazolam (15%); and oxycodone (15%). During 1997-2006, Oklahoma prescription opioid sales increased fourfold. Methadone was associated with the highest number of deaths per equianalgesic dose sold (23.3), whereas hydrocodone and oxycodone had the highest increases in deaths per equianalgesic dose sold (threefold increase each).


Unintentional medication-related deaths are increasing in Oklahoma and often involve multiple substances. Substances most frequently contributing to deaths were prescription opioid analgesics. Prevention strategies should target people aged 35-54 years and emphasize the dangers of coingesting substances and misusing prescription pain medications.

Published by Elsevier Inc.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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