MONDAY, July 31, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- In yet another sign of just how deadly the U.S. opioid epidemic has become, researchers report a sevenfold increase in the number of drivers killed in car crashes while under the influence of prescription painkillers.
Prescriptions for drugs such as oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicoprofen) and morphine have quadrupled, from 76 million in 1991 to nearly 300 million in 2014, so it's no surprise these medications are playing a growing role in highway deaths, the Columbia University researchers said.
"The significant increase in proportion of drivers who test positive for prescription pain medications is an urgent public health concern," said lead researcher Stanford Chihuri.
Prescription drugs can cause drowsiness, impaired thinking and slowed reaction times, which can interfere with driving skills, Chihuri said.
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