Methadone Deaths Raise Concerns

Health officials are worried about a large increase in deaths linked to the dangerous pharmaceuticalmethadone. Methadone only accounts for around two percent of all painkiller prescriptions but this drug is responsible for a third of U.S. painkiller overdose deaths, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although widely known as a heroin addiction treatment drug, the majority of the people who die of methadone overdoses are not drug addicts. Methadone is routinely prescribed to patients for pain management, and many of these patients are unaware that the drug can build up in their bodies and cause irregular heartbeats or serious breathing problems.

“Deaths from opioid overdose have increased four-fold in the past decade, and methadone now accounts for nearly a third of opioid-associated deaths,” a CDC spokesperson said. “There are many safer alternatives to methadone for chronic non-cancer pain.”

The jump of methadone overdoses may be attributable to medical negligence in some cases. A patient is more likely to suffer a methadone overdose when they receive a prescription from a doctor who isn’t properly trained in pain management.

Some doctors improperly prescribe opioid painkillers like methadone to treat conditions like chronic back pain, but CBS News reports that there is little data indicating that methadone is beneficial to treat such conditions. The CDC recommends that physicians only prescribe methadone based on the duration of a patient’s pain and that insurers stop including methadone on lists of preferred drugs to treat pain.