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Fatal Overdoses Often Involve Methadone, Washington Study Finds

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Methadone was involved in 64 percent of fatal overdoses on prescription opiate drugs in the state of Washington, more than double the rate of overdoses on oxycodone or hydrocodone, according to a new report from state and federal health officials.

Reuters reported Nov. 4 that researchers who analyzed prescription opiate overdose deaths in Washington between 2004 and 2007 found that 23 percent of deaths were due to oxycodone overdoses, while 14 percent involved hydrocodone.

The study found that 60 percent of victims were men, most were middle-aged (ages 45-54), and that Medicaid recipients were 5.7 times more likely to die of an overdose than non-recipients, possibly because Medicaid patients are twice as likely to get prescriptions for opiate-based painkillers.

The findings were published in the Oct. 30, 2009 issue of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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