Prescription Drugs Lead in Accidental Deaths

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -  The Centers for Disease Control said overdosing on prescription painkillers is the number one cause of accidental death among Americans and it's risen by tens of millions in the last decade.

A metro woman knows first-hand how easy it is to get the pills you want, or need.

The CDC said more than 15,000 Americans now die every year after overdosing on prescription painkillers.  It surpassed traffic accidents back in 2009.

But that statistic is not surprising to Nancy McCormick.  That's because she said she saw a doctor for a muscle spasm and got a prescription.  She said there were 30 pills in her bottle.

"My thought about a muscle spasm is you know, it's bad for one day and then you're done and you move on and you don't need that many pills," she said.

McCormick said lucky for her, she works in the substance abuse field, so she tossed those pills after she felt better.

But she said someone else might not know that, or worse, don't want to know better.

That makes it harder for these numbers to go down.

"267 billion prescriptions are written out of emergency rooms only annually, for drugs," Michelle Irwin said.

Irwin works for First Call, an organization that provides services to people impacted by alcohol and drug addiction.

She said doctors hold responsibility, but not all.  She said addicts can "shop" around for different doctors.  So, Irwin said the best thing to do is to pay attention to what the doctor's giving you, to what you're taking and to what's not being used and dispose of them properly.

Irwin said Missouri does not have a prescription medical drug program that follows when an individual gets prescriptions, as to warn a pharmacy if this person is "shopping" around.  She said that would help this problem.  Kansas on the other hand, has that law.

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