A new report found that a shocking number of people who take certain types of prescription painkillers are also taking other medications that can interact with the painkillers in dangerous ways. Opioid prescription painkillers, which include codeine, Vicodin, Percocet, and morphine, can be very dangerous when taken in combination with other drugs. More people die from an overdose of those types of painkillers than from cocaine and heroin combined. Most of those overdoses are unintentional.
The report found that about one in three people taking prescription pain killers were also on some type of anti-anxiety drugs or muscle relaxants. The combination of anti-anxiety drugs and opioid painkillers is very dangerous, since both of those types of drugs have a sedating effect, which can slow down the respiratory system. The report also found that many patients were taking multiple short-acting opioids at the same time as the long-acting versions of the mediations. This can significantly increase the risk for addiction.
In many cases, people who take combinations of these drugs got them from more than one doctor or pharmacy. This is sometimes called "doctor shopping", which is when a patient gets prescriptions from several doctors and the doctors aren't aware that other doctors are prescribing drugs.
Nearly half of patients who took opiate painkillers for more than 30 days continued taking them for three years or more. The U.S. makes up only five percent of the world's population, but we consume 75 percent of all opioid prescription drugs. Between 1999 and 2010, overdoses from opioid painkillers quadrupled.
In many cases, people who took combinations of prescription drugs and suffered an overdose are responsible, because they either didn't tell their doctors the truth about their prescription drug use or they did not follow the directions of the doctor/pharmacist. However, in many cases a healthcare professional or a drug company is responsible. The doctor may not have properly asked about the person's other prescriptions. The pharmacist may have incorrectly filled the prescription. The drug company may have manufactured defective drugs.
If you believe that you or a loved one has been harmed by prescription drugs, call the Houston prescription drug defect attorneys at Kennedy Hodges at 888-526-7616. You can also learn more about us on Twitter.