18 Oct New injury deaths report sheds light on severity of prescription medication crisis in Australia
18 October 2018
New injury deaths report sheds light on severity of prescription medication crisis in Australia
A new Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s report released last week, Trends in injury deaths,Australia paints a disturbing picture of pharmaceutical use across the country.
Chief Executive Officer of ScriptWise, Bee Mohamed, says the statistics should be a wakeup call for governments across Australia to invest in education and treatment to prevent further harms.
“It’s clear that Australia is in the midst of a public health crisis, but the system continues to operate as normal,” said Ms Mohamed.
“While we’re seeing positive declines in many areas, such as transport-related injury, deaths due to pharmaceuticals is one of the few areas where more people are dying.”
Rates of injury deaths due to transport injury, drowning and homicide have declined from 1999-00 to 2014-15. Rates of poisoning deaths involving pharmaceuticals fell in 2001-2 but have since risen by 2.4% per year.
“Solutions to complex issues like this are never simple, but it is clear that efforts to reduce accidental deaths through awareness and education, like for the road toll, have been very effective,” said Ms Mohamed.
“Not enough Australians are aware that using certain medications for sleep, anxiety or pain (benzodiazepines or opioids) long-term or in combination can cause serious harm, and even be fatal.”
“We have the opportunity to stop other families from experiencing the devastating loss of a loved one to a medication initially just taken to help. It should be a priority for all governments.”
AIHW: Henley G & Harrison JE 2018. Trends in injury deaths, Australia, 1999–00 to 2014–15. Injury research and statistics series no. 112. Cat. no. INJCAT 192. Canberra: AIHW. Accessed 18 October: https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/313761b5-8215-4bd1-8df2-6eb06a200629/aihw-injcat-192.pdf.aspx?inline=true