According to a study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of benzodiazepine overdose incidents has spiked in the recent years.
A recently published report by the CDC, a longitudinal study from 1999 through 2013, revealed that around 30 percent of the 22,767 prescription abuse-related deaths involved abuse of benzodiazepine. This translates to a total of 6,973 in 2013.
The remaining 70 percent, or 16,235, involved the abuse of opioid painkillers, the CDC added. In the same year, the agency reports that a total of 43,982 drug overdose deaths have been recorded in the United States.
Benzodiazepine is one of the most common psychotropic medications to alleviate anxiety. The most common benzodiazepines available in the market include Xanax and Valium. Physicians usually prescribe opioids, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, to patients with complaints of acute pain.
According to a recently published journal from the American Journal of Public Health, the number of cases of benzodiazepine abuse in 2013 has increased as much 400 percent since 1996.
Experts believe the rate of drug overdose increases when Benzos, as they are commonly referred to in the market, are taken together with opioid prescription. In some cases, these two medications, which treat different conditions, are prescribed together.
With this, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a statement last week saying it would look into the matter deeper, the Washington Post reports. Although there have been no conclusive studies pinpointing the negative effects if the two medications are taken by patients simultaneously.
“[The FDA] is committed to working with the health care community and our federal, state and local partners to help reduce opioid and benzodiazepine misuse and abuse. We will continue to monitor the combined use of these products and take necessary actions to ensure prescribers and the public are informed of the risks involved with the use of these medications,” the FDA statement reads as quoted by the Washington Post.