“The OD Report 2020 tells the truth about fatal overdose – a tragedy we can prevent.”
The Penington Institute released their annual overdose report in August 2020, which highlights the problem we at Claims Pharmacy are trying to address – too many Australians are dying from unintentional drug overdoses each year. In 2018, more Australian’s lost their lives to prescription medication than the national road toll. In 2018, 2070 Australians lost their lives to drug overdose, with 1556 being unintentional.
The OD Report highlights overall overdose trends and breaks these down by medication group and state trends.
Opioids, benzodiazepines and anti-depressants account for a large percentage of unintentional drug-induced deaths.
At Claims Pharmacy, and in the personal insurance scheme, these are the medications that we see most frequently. It should be noted that deaths involving multiple drugs, or poly-drug use, has now become the norm. The OD Report shows that poly-drug deaths where four or more substances are involved have increased significantly in recent years.
Opioids were present in 57.8% of unintentional drug-induced deaths in 2018. In the last 12 years, the number of unintentional drug-induced deaths has nearly trebled, increasing from 338 in 2006 to 900 in 2018.
Unintentional drug-induced deaths from benzodiazepines almost always occurred in a poly-substance context. It should be noted that less than 1% of the 648 unintentional drug-induced deaths involving a benzodiazepine occurred without any other drugs present.
The OD Report has identified the following as the key state-based headline statements regarding unintentional drug-induced deaths in 2018
NSW – For five years running, more than 500 NSW residents died of unintentional overdose
VIC – Almost one Victorian is dying of an unintentional overdose every single day
QLD – It is the tenth consecutive year with more than 200 unintentional overdose deaths
WA – More West Australians died of overdose (in 2018) than any previous year
SA – More South Australians are dying of overdoses than on the roads
TAS – Drugs crisis continues as more Tasmanians dying of overdoses than on the roads
ACT – 27 ACT residents died of unintentional overdoses in 2018
NT – Overdoses are claiming the lives of more territorians than getting behind the wheel
The statements above highlight the severity of the problem: more Australians are dying from medications (unintentional drug-induced overdoses) than road accidents.
The rate of unintentional drug-induced deaths is increasing, at a rate of approximately 3% per annum. If this continues, in 2023 there will be an additional 248 unintentional drug-induced deaths. The road toll, however, has decreased on average by 2.2% per annum, which would equate to 128 fewer deaths by 2023.
At Claims Pharmacy, we will continue to work with injured people, insurers and the healthcare system to ensure those who need it most are continued to be protected.
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