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Australia saw 5 drug-induced deaths per day in 2021: Report

Canberra, May 4 (IANS) Preliminary estimates by experts from the University of New South Wales (NSW Sydney) have indicated that five Australians died per day from drug overdose and other narcotics-induced causes in 2021.

According to the report published on Thursday, there were 1,788 drug-induced deaths among Australians in 2021, equivalent to 1 percent of all registered deaths in Australia during the year, reports Xinhua news agency.

In every 100,000 Australian population, about 6.9 people lost their lives to drug-related reasons.

In 2021, males accounted for 63 per cent of drug-induced deaths, and a great proportion of drug-induced deaths occurred among those aged 45-54 and 35-44.

Opioids, such as heroin and pharmaceutical opioids, were flagged as the most commonly involved in drug overdose deaths in 2021, with 1,008 lives lost, followed by antiepileptic, sedative-hypnotic and anti-parkinsonism drugs.

The report also pointed out that of all drug-induced deaths, 76 per cent took place at home, with 68 per cent marked as unintentional and 27 per cent as intentional.

“Since 2002, the rate of drug-induced deaths steadily increased on average by 3.5 per cent per year, reaching a peak in 2017 with 8.2 deaths per 100,000 Australians,” said Amy Peacock, lead of the drug trends research program and NSW Sydney’s associate professor.

The expert noted that the report presents findings on all drug-induced deaths in Australia from 2002 to 2021.

“We have not seen evidence of a further increase in the rate of drug-induced deaths since this peak,” she added.

The report came after Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) announced a final decision to reduce paracetamol pack sizes on Wednesday.

The TGA said in a statement that each year in Australia, around 225 people are hospitalized and 50 Australians die from paracetamol overdose, with rates of intentional overdose highest among adolescents and young adults.

From February 1, 2025, the maximum size of packs available for general sale in Australia, for example in supermarkets and convenience stores, will be trimmed from 20 to 16 tablets or capsules, while the packet size on pharmacy shelves will halve from 100 to 50.

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