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J Forensic Leg Med. 2014 Mar;23:32-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jflm.2014.01.006. Epub 2014 Jan 28.

Tramadol deaths in Northern Ireland: a review of cases from 1996 to 2012.

Author information

1
State Pathologist's Department, Institute of Forensic Medicine, Grosvenor Road, Belfast BT12 6BS, Northern Ireland, UK. Electronic address: charlotte.randall@statepathni.org.uk.
2
State Pathologist's Department, Institute of Forensic Medicine, Grosvenor Road, Belfast BT12 6BS, Northern Ireland, UK.

Abstract

In the UK tramadol is a frequently prescribed opioid analgesic which is becoming increasingly popular as a drug of misuse. Its use varies worldwide and in the last decade it has been upgraded to a controlled substance in several countries, due to an increased number of deaths associated with its use. A review of all deaths associated with tramadol in Northern Ireland was performed and this highlighted 127 cases from 1996 to the end of 2012. A 10% increase in deaths due to tramadol was noted. In 2001 tramadol deaths represented 9% of all drug misuse deaths rising to 40% in 2011. The majority of the deaths occurred in males (62%), with a median age of 41 years, living in the Belfast city area (36%). Tramadol fatalities were found in combination with other drugs/medicines (49%), alcohol (36%) or alone (23%). Most of those who died did not reach hospital, with only 2% presenting with multi-organ or acute liver failure. In just over half of the deaths tramadol had not been prescribed by a medical practitioner (53%). Depression, addiction and seizures were recognised risk factors. An increase in awareness of tramadol toxicity is needed amongst the public and doctors.

KEYWORDS:

Overdose; Tramadol

PMID:
24661703
DOI:
10.1016/j.jflm.2014.01.006
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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