Increasing benzodiazepine prescriptions and overdose mortality in the United States, 1996-2013

Marcus A. Bachhuber, Sean Hennessy, Chinazo O. Cunningham, Joanna L. Starrels

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

167 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives.To describe trends in benzodiazepine prescriptions and overdose mortality involving benzodiazepines among US adults. Methods.We examined data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and multiplecause-of-death data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Results. Between 1996 and 2013, the percentage of adults filling a benzodiazepine prescription increased from 4.1% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 3.8%, 4.5%) to 5.6% (95% CI = 5.2%, 6.1%), with an annual percent change of 2.5% (95% CI = 2.1%, 3.0%). The quantity of benzodiazepines filled increased from 1.1 (95% CI = 0.9, 1.2) to 3.6 (95% CI = 3.0, 4.2) kilogram lorazepam equivalents per 100 000 adults (annual percent change = 9.0%;95%CI = 7.6%, 10.3%).The overdose death rate increased from 0.58 (95% CI = 0.55, 0.62) to 3.07 (95% CI = 2.99, 3.14) per 100 000 adults, with a plateau seen after 2010. Conclusions. Benzodiazepine prescriptions and overdose mortality have increased considerably. Fatal overdoses involving benzodiazepines have plateaued overall; however, no evidence of decreases was found in any group. Interventions to reduce the use of benzodiazepines or improve their safety are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)686-688
Number of pages3
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Volume106
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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