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For Release: June 17, 2010
Contact: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
(405) 271-5601

National Safety Month Emphasis on Preventing Prescription Drug Overdoses

Every June, the National Safety Council promotes National Safety Month. This year the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) Injury Prevention Service is joining this effort to promote the importance of preventing prescription drug overdose.

In 2006, 27,531 individuals died in the United States due to unintentional poisoning. Over 95 percent of unintentional and undetermined poisoning deaths were due to drugs. Half of the unintentional poisonings were due to medications, such as hydrocodone and oxycodone. In that same year, approximately 400 Oklahomans died of unintentional prescription drug poisoning.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unintentional poisonings are second only to motor vehicle crashes as a cause of injury death. For persons age 35 to 54, unintentional poisoning is the leading cause of injury death. Family and friends are frequently the source of the prescription drugs in unintentional poisoning deaths, either by giving or selling their prescription medication or having the medication taken without permission.

The OSDH Injury Prevention Service offers the following suggestions for preventing prescription drug overdoses:

  • Never share or sell your prescription drugs.
  • Dispose of unused, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs.
  • Keep all pain medications in a safe place that can only be reached by people who take or give them.
  • Keep medicines in their original bottles or containers.
  • Never drink alcohol while taking medication.
  • Put the Poison Control number, 1-800-222-1222, on or near every home telephone and cell phone for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week access.

Not all unintentional medication poisonings end in death. In 2008, 732,316 emergency department visits resulted from non fatal unintentional poisonings. Medication is twice as likely to be the source of unintentional poisoning for children treated in the emergency department than other household products.

The OSDH Injury Prevention Service offers the following additional suggestions to protect children:

  • Avoid taking medicine in front of children as they mimic adult behaviors.
  • Do not call medicine “candy”.
  • Do not let house guests leave drugs where children can find them, for example, in a pillbox, purse, backpack, or coat pocket.
  • When taking medicines, do not put the next dose on the counter or table where children can reach them.
  • Never leave children alone with household products or drugs.

Additional information on preventing prescription drug poisoning can be found on these Web sites:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:


Office of National Drug Policy:


National Safety Council/National Safety Month: http://www.nsc.org/nsc_events/Nat_Safe_Month/Pages/home.aspx 




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