by Mike Adams
the Health Ranger
Editor of NaturalNews
December 23, 2009
On the heels of the sudden
death of celebrity actress Brittany Murphy,
people are once again raising the question of just how dangerous
prescription drugs might really be.
Some are arguing, however, that street drugs are the real danger,
not prescription drugs. But the following study demonstrates why
prescription drugs are far more dangerous than illegal recreational
According to a new study conducted by physicians at St. Michael's
Hospital and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES)
in Toronto, the number of deaths due to prescription
opioid use has doubled between 1991
and 2004. Following the introduction of
oxycodone into Toronto's drug
formulary in 2000, there has been a 500% increase in deaths due to
Researchers reviewed over 7,000 files from the Office of the Chief
Coroner in Ontario and found that between the years of 1991 and
2004, oxycodone prescriptions increased by more than 850 percent,
representing about one-third of the opioid prescriptions given in
2006. (This is the largest prescription increase among all opioid
Following the addition of this drug into the provincial drug benefit
plan in 2000, deaths from opioid usage rose by 41 percent.
Shockingly, deaths from prescription opioids like oxycodone were far
greater than deaths from heroin. The vast majority of people who
died from opioids had visited their doctor and received a
prescription for the drug within a month of their death.
The total number of opioid-related deaths in Toronto in 2004 is
estimated to be 27.2 per million people. Study authors said they
hope to shed light on the tremendous dangers associated with
prescription opioid drugs.
Coked up on
It's the dirty little secret of the pharmaceutical industry:
More people are killed by
prescription opioids than all those killed by heroin and cocaine
combined. And that probably even includes all the shootings of
gang bangers in northern Mexico.
Prescription drug abuse is now more
common than street drug abuse - by far! And yet Big Pharma rakes
in huge profits from all the patient addictions to their opioids.
And by "opioids", what I mean is
narcotics. They are, in fact, one and the same.
So of all the drug addicts in America today, you can divide them
into two camps:
1) People addicted to street
2) People addicted to prescription drugs.
The people in group #1 (street drugs)
are taken to jail where they are given prison sentences. People in
group #2 (prescription drugs) are taken to their doctor where they
are given prescription refills. It's all really the same narcotics,
it's just that one group is legal and the other is illegal.
And what really determines whether a particular narcotic is legal or
illegal? Whether or not Big Pharma profits from it.
Big Pharma makes money off the
narcotics, they're considered legal.
Big Pharma, you see, earns tens of billions of dollars each year
from drug addicts. And just by coincidence, it turns out that their
prescription narcotics are extremely addicting, guaranteeing repeat
business. The business model is so dang lucrative, you might think
they were drug dealers...
Why do you think the main sponsors for the Partnership For A
Drug-Free America are the drug companies themselves? It's
because Big Pharma is trying to eliminate the competition. By
keeping up the so-called "War on Drugs" front, the pharmaceutical
industry can make sure it dominates the market for narcotics.
After all, if you're going to feed
narcotics to a nation full of junkies, why not make a hefty profit
That's the thinking of drug companies,
it seems, as they have done basically zilch to effectively stem the
abuse of their own prescription narcotics. Much like the tobacco
companies, drug companies secretly want people to be addicted to
Sources for this story include below reports:
Deaths Related to Narcotic Pain Relievers
Have Doubled Since 1991: Study
Introduction of OxyContin Linked to A
Five-Fold Increase in Deaths
St. Michael's Hospital
December 7, 2009
TORONTO, December 7, 2009
Deaths from opioid use in Ontario
have doubled - from 13.7 deaths per million residents in 1991 to
27.2 deaths per million residents in 2004 - according to a new
study led by physicians at St. Michael's Hospital and the
Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) in
Researchers also found that the addition of a long-acting form
of oxycodone (OxyContin) to the province's drug formulary in
January 2000 corresponded with a five-fold increase in oxycodone-related
"Many doctors are aware that
prescription opioids can have fatal side effects by
depressing breathing and decreasing level of consciousness,"
explains lead author Dr. Irfan Dhalla, a physician at St.
Michael's Hospital. "But we suspect most will be surprised
to learn just how many deaths occur each year in Ontario
from prescription opioids."
Opioids, also known as narcotic pain
relievers, are among the most commonly prescribed medications in
Canada. They are used to treat people with moderate-to-severe
acute or chronic pain.
The researchers manually reviewed nearly 7,100 files at the
Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario.
They then linked these files with
provincial data on physician visits and medication prescribing.
They also analyzed data from IMS Health Canada - an organization
that tracks the sales of prescription drugs.
Here are the researchers' key findings:
Prescriptions for oxycodone
rose by more than 850 per cent during the study period.
This increase was much larger than for any other opioid.
Oxycodone accounted for about one-third of the almost
7.2 million prescriptions for opioids dispensed in
Ontario in 2006.
The increase in deaths was
especially pronounced after OxyContin was added to the
provincial drug benefit plan in 2000. Over the next five
years, deaths related to any opioid increased by 41 per
cent, and the number of deaths related to oxycodone (the
active ingredient in OxyContin) rose fivefold.
Deaths from prescription
opioids in Ontario far outnumbered those from heroin.
fatalities (54 per cent) were accidental. The manner of
death was undetermined in 22 per cent of cases and
deemed to be suicide in 24 per cent.
Most people whose deaths
involved an opioid had visited a doctor and received a
prescription for the drug in the month before they died.
"These findings highlight the
tremendous societal burden of opioid-related morbidity and
mortality and morbidity" says the study's co-author Dr.
David Juurlink, a senior scientist at the Institute for
Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) and a staff physician at
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.
"Patients and doctors may not
fully appreciate the potential danger of these drugs,
particularly when they are taken in combination with other
sedating drugs or alcohol."
Based on the study findings for
Ontario, the estimated annual national incidence of opioid-related
deaths in 2004 (27.2 deaths per million population) came
somewhere between the incidence of death from HIV infection (12
deaths per million) and the incidence of death from sepsis, or
severe infection (40 deaths per million).
To reduce the number of deaths related to opioid prescriptions,
the researchers suggest the creation of real-time electronic
databases accessible to physicians and pharmacists. This would
make it harder for people to obtain opioids improperly from
multiple doctors or pharmacies and easier for health care
providers to predict and prevent potentially dangerous drug
The researchers also call for more
and better education about the risks of opioid use and suggest
greater restrictions on opioid prescribing.
About opioids and oxycodone
Opioids, also known as narcotic pain relievers, are among
the most commonly prescribed medications in Canada.
They are used to treat people with
moderate-to-severe acute or chronic pain. Opioids have many side
effects, and can cause death by depressing breathing and
OxyContin was introduced onto the public drug formulary in
Ontario in 2000. The public formulary lists drugs that the
province has agreed to pay for under its drug benefits plan.
Deaths From Opioid Use Have Doubled,
5-Fold Increase in Oxycodone Deaths
Canadian Medical Association
December 7, 2009
Deaths from opioid use in Ontario,
Canada, have doubled since 1991 and the addition of long-acting
oxycodone to the drug formulary was associated with a 5-fold
increase in oxycodone-related deaths,
found a new study in CMAJ
(Canadian Medical Association Journal). Most of these
additional deaths were accidental.
Opioids are among the most commonly prescribed medications in
Canada and are often used for patients with chronic
non-malignant pain. Other studies have argued that prescribing
is not a major contributor to the adverse health effects of
opioid abuse, yet this study suggests that increased rates of
opioid prescriptions are a significant factor in accidental
The study looked at prescribing data from 1991 to 2007 from IMS
Health Canada, which collects information from almost two-thirds
of Canadian pharmacies, and deaths attributed to opioid use from
records of the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario between
1991 and 2004. It also linked the coroner's data to health care
databases to track patients' medical visits.
Prescriptions for opioid pain medications increased by 29%, with
codeine the most frequently prescribed, although the number of
prescriptions for that drug declined during the study period.
Oxycodone prescriptions rose more than 850%, much more rapidly
than any other opioid, and accounted for 32% of the almost 7.2
million prescriptions for opioids dispensed in 2006.
Between 1991 and 2004,
7099 deaths with complete
records were attributed to alcohol and/or drugs
In 3406 of these deaths -
61.9% - opioids were implicated as cause of death
The median age of death was
40 years and 67% were men
Suicide was a factor in
23.6% of deaths
"The rise in opioid-related
deaths was due in large part to inadvertent toxicity," write
Dr. Irfan Dhalla, of the University of Toronto and
coauthors. "There was no significant increase in the number
of deaths from suicide involving opioids over the study
After linking the coroner's data to
health care databases, the researchers included 3066 deaths.
Many (66.4%) of these patients had
seen a physician at least once in the 4 weeks preceding their
death, with diagnosis of mental health problems and pain-related
complaints the most common reasons for medical attention.
"The societal burden of opioid-related
mortality and morbidity in Canada is substantial," write the
authors. "In our study, the annual incidence of opioid-related
deaths in 2004 (27.2 million) falls between the incidence of
death from HIV infection (12 per million) and sepsis (40 per
They conclude that the frequency of
visits to physicians and opioid prescriptions in the month
before death suggest a missed opportunity for prevention.
In a related commentary (Deaths
related to the use of prescription opioids), Dr.
Benedikt Fischer of Simon Fraser University and
"the pre-eminent risk in most
deaths was from the use of multiple drugs involving
prescription opioids and other substances that are widely
and legally dispensed."
As prescription drugs are involved
in more overdose deaths than either heroin or cocaine in North
America, the profile of the people who are dying may be changing
from marginalized people to more "middle class."
The authors argue that governments
must lead in developing a preventative strategy for this
different demographic and refocus the federal drug policy that
currently targets marginalized people.