Figures from the National Drug Related Deaths Index, showing that more than two people died each day in the Republic in 2016 as a result of drug use, are of concern. A total of 736 people died in 2016 compared to 431 in 2004 – an increase of 71 per cent – according to the data from the Health Research Board.
Alcohol, either alone or with other drugs, continues to be the principal substance implicated in deaths. However, the identification of prescription drugs as the leading cause of poisoning deaths must ring alarm bells.
Prescription drugs were implicated in seven of every 10 poisoning deaths in 2016. While the opiate methadone and the tranquiliser diazepam are the most common prescription drugs implicated, some new prescription drugs are emerging as a cause of death. Pregabalin, licensed for use in Ireland in the treatment of epilepsy, neuropathic pain and generalised anxiety disorder, was implicated in 14 deaths in 2013, but the drug contributed to 65 deaths in 2016.
Source: The Irish Times, 14/03/19