Prescription drug overdose cases skyrocket at emergency departments

My lede:

With newly released data showing that prescription drug misuse now rivals illicit drug use as a cause of emergency department visits, the Food and Drug Administration in June released a long-awaited proposal aimed at curbing recreational use of opioid analgesics.

Physicians and advocates for pain patients hailed the FDA’s proposal for addressing the growing opioid abuse problem while not impeding legitimate access to pain treatment.

Emergency department visits related to misuse of prescription or over-the-counter drugs doubled from 500,000 in 2004 to 1 million in 2008, said the report, based on estimates from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Drug Abuse Warning Network. DAWN generated the estimates by reviewing data and medical charts submitted by 231 U.S. emergency departments.

Illegal drugs such as cocaine and heroin were involved in 1 million ED trips annually, a figure that stayed flat over the time period.

The whole shebang.