I was pointed to an article about a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine rating the top 10 deadliest drugs based on deaths related to their use. The top 2 are potent pain meds, oxycodone and fentanyl. Deaths with these are most often related to misuse, either intentional (over-medicating yourself looking for release) or unintentional (over-medicating yourself looking for relief). But we have seen a very few related to over-prescribing because of lack of familiarity with their potency, pharmacokinetics, and/or synergism of side-effects with other meds (i.e. respiratory depression) and medical conditions (e.g. sleep apnea).
The 4th med on the list is morphine. I would have to wonder (without seeing the original study) if some of these might be heroin deaths in which the characteristic metabolite of heroin (and diagnostic of heroin use) was missed in the analysis. The 6th on the list is methadone which I have written about several times before.
The 5th med is acetaminophen, as alluded to in the article its ranking is likely due to its often being in combination forms of narcotic pain meds.
The one drug missing from the list is hydocodone (a frequently used and abused pain med) and I am a loss to explain that.
This study was based on voluntary reports to the FDA, so there is a possibility of some under-reporting and, pretty significantly, does not include illicit drugs. The caveat to be aware of and “respectful” of these drugs is well taken.