Prescription drug deaths drop in San Diego

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SAN DIEGO — Following two consecutive years of increases, the number of deaths related to legal medications in the San Diego area dropped somewhat in 2013, county officials reported Friday.

The latest regional “Prescription Drug Abuse Report Card” revealed that fatalities due to prescription medications decreased 3.36 percent last year as compared with 2012 — from 268 to 259.

Additionally, the study showed decreases in the following areas over the same period:
— Percent of adults seeking treatment for painkiller addiction (4.7 percent in 2012 vs. 4.5 percent in 2013);
— Percent of juvenile arrestees who reported abusing prescription drugs (40 vs. 37);
— Pharmacy burglaries and robberies (eight vs. five);
— Prosecutions of prescription-drug fraud (117 vs. 90); and
— Percent of 11th-graders reporting abuse of legal medications (19.6 percent vs. 17 percent).

“Our efforts to reduce access to and increase awareness of the prescription drug problem in San Diego are paying off,” Supervisor Dave Roberts said this morning during a briefing about the findings.

Conversely, the survey uncovered the following negative trends:
— The number of emergency-room visits because of painkillers went up (from 3,278 in 2011 to 3,791 in 2012);
— The percentage of adult arrestees who misuse prescription drugs also rose (from 39 percent in 2012 to 43 percent in 2013);
— An increase in heroin deaths from 74 to 86.

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