Fatal car crashes linked to opioids jump 700% in 20 years

The number of car accidents involving fatally injured drivers with opioids in their system increased by seven-fold in six states from 1995 to 2015, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health.

To determine the possible influence of opioids on fatal car accidents, researchers analyzed fatality reporting systems data from California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and West Virginia. The amount of fatally injured drivers whose toxicology reports came back positive for opioid use increased from 1 percent in 1995 to 7.2 percent in 2015.

"Prescription opioids as potent pain medications can cause drowsiness and impair cognitive functions," said Guohua Li, MD, professor of epidemiology at Columbia Univeristy's Mailman School of Public Health in New York City and the study's principal investigator. "The 700 percent rise in the prevalence of prescription opioids detected in fatally injured drivers is cause for great concern."

More articles on opioids: 
FDA head seeks unlikely allies in opioid fight: Insurers and PBMs 
Sen. McCaskill expands opioid investigation 
Blue Shield of California members' opioid use falls 32% during narcotic safety program

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