|Poison Center data play vital role in predicting methadone-related deaths|
|July 26, 2012|
A new report, published by UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health researchers, shows that data from national poison control centers may provide the best indicator of deaths by methadone overdose in the United States. Methadone is an opioid linked to 30 percent of deaths attributed to prescription painkiller overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Nabarun Gupta, doctoral candidate in the UNC public health school's epidemiology department, leads the study, published July 19 in the journal PLoS One.
Working with the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center in Denver, Gupta and colleagues evaluated data from the Researched Abuse, Diversion and Addition-Related Surveillance (RADARS®) System, a nonprofit group that collects timely geographic- and product-specific data about prescription drug misuse. The data is collected primarily for use by national poison control centers.
RADARS®' advantage is the speed at which it allows information to be disseminated. National overdose mortality data takes more than three years to become available, leaving local and state health authorities without a clear picture of the overdose burden in real time.
The study suggests that in the middle of an overdose epidemic, poison control centers can provide timely surveillance of mortality due to methadone.
"We can no longer remain blind to the prescription analgesic overdose problem in our country," Dasgupta said. "Every overdose death is preventable."
The research has implications for government agencies.
"We have the data to understand and craft interventions to prevent overdose deaths," Dasgupta said. "Poison centers play key roles by preventing unnecessary hospitalizations and by providing feedback to legislators and regulators on how well policies are working."
The RADARS® System, established in 2002, includes six primary programs, each designed to provide different but complimentary perspectives on prescription drug abuse in the United States.
|Last updated July 26, 2012|