Nonprescription Misuse On The Rise
October 5, 2012

Overuse Of Nonprescription Medications A Growing Concern

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

With pharmaceuticals becoming more and more accessible, medication overdose appears to be a rising concern throughout the world. Researchers have found that overdose is related to both nonprescription drugs and prescription drugs. Studies have shown that there are a number of reasons overdose occurs and many medical experts believe that these studies will help them better understand the trends that are occurring.

One study from the University of Rochester Medical Center found that nonprescription medication has the same possibility of drug poisoning as prescription drugs. The researchers studied data from the second annual report of the Toxicology Investigators Consortium (ToxIC). The findings were recently featured in an online edition of the Journal of Medical Toxicology.

ToxIC, created by the American College of Medical Toxicology, is a real-time surveillance system that can determine current positioning trends as all cases evaluated by medical toxicologists are included in the database. The 2011 data included information from 28 different centers. The researchers found that 53 percent of the 10,392 cases included patients who were sent to emergency departments. The most common reason patients were sent to emergency rooms was due to pharmaceutical overdose, which was associated with 48 percent of the patients. The patients took medications such as muscle relaxations, pain relievers, antidepressants and sleeping pills. As well, there were 35 cases of deaths related to medication overdose.

"Much of the current concerns about prescription medication abuse have centered on opioids, and while opioids are certainly of greater concern in regard to morbidity and mortality related to overdose, the data reported here suggest that emphasis should also be placed on sleeping pills,” explained Dr. Timothy Wiegan, a researcher from the University of Rochester Medical Center, in a prepared statement. “Our data also suggest that while medication abuse is a major problem, restricting our concerns to prescription drug abuse fails to acknowledge the major contribution of nonprescription agents to healthcare resource utilization."