L.A. Now Live: Inside The Times' prescription deaths investigation
The investigation found that prescription overdoses kill more people than heroin and cocaine.
A Los Angeles Times investigation has found that in nearly half of the accidental deaths from prescription drugs in four Southern California counties, the deceased had a doctor's prescription for at least one drug that caused or contributed to the death.An examination of coroners' records found that:
- In 1,762 of those cases — 47% — drugs for which the deceased had a prescription were the sole cause or a contributing cause of death.
- A small cadre of doctors was associated with a disproportionate number of those fatal overdoses. Seventy-one — 0.1% of all practicing doctors in the four counties — wrote prescriptions for drugs that caused or contributed to 298 deaths. That is 17% of the total linked to doctors' prescriptions.
- Each of those 71 physicians prescribed drugs to three or more patients who died.
- Four of the doctors had 10 or more patients who fatally overdosed.
- One doctor, Van H. Vu, had the highest total: 16. Vu is a pain specialist in Huntington Beach.