(HealthDay News) – Methadone is involved in more than 30% of opioid-related overdose deaths, with the overdose death rate significantly higher than for other opioid pain relievers, according to a report published in the July 3 early-release issue of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report.

Leonard J Paulozzi, MD, from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed the national rates of fatal methadone overdoses and sales during 1999–2010. The rate of death from methadone overdose in 2009 was compared with the rates for other opioid-related deaths in 13 states.

The authors note that the methadone overdose death and sales rates reached a peak in 2007. Methadone accounted for 4.5%–18.5% of the opioids distributed by state in 2010. Of the opioid pain reliever deaths in 13 states, methadone was involved in 31.4% and accounted for 39.8% of single-drug opioid pain reliever deaths. For single-drug or multidrug deaths there was a significantly higher overdose death rate for methadone than for other opioid pain relievers.

“Although interventions related to methadone use are urgently needed, government agencies, health care providers, insurers, and other stakeholders must combine these interventions with measures that will address the problems of misuse and abuse of all opioid pain relievers,” the authors write.

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