Adverse drug reaction deaths reported in United States vital statistics, 1999-2006

Ann Pharmacother. 2012 Feb;46(2):169-75. doi: 10.1345/aph.1P592. Epub 2012 Jan 17.


Background: Adverse drug reactions (ADRs) are an important source of morbidity and mortality during medical care.

Objective: To examine the trends in mortality related to ADRs reported through the US vital statistics system since January 1999.

Methods: Demographic characteristics of people reported as dying as a result of ADRs from 1999 to 2006 were evaluated. The National Mortality Statistics database was queried for International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision, codes Y40-Y59, which are specific for deaths due to adverse effects of drugs in therapeutic use. The data were subgrouped based on demographic factors to identify important trends. Crude rates were calculated based on incidents per 100,000 population. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals for subgroups were calculated by logistical regression.

Results: During the 8-year study period 2,313,902,748 person years were evaluated and 2341 ADR-related deaths were identified. Annual rates ranged from 0.08/100,000 to 0.12/100,000, and rates increased significantly over time at a rate of 0.0058 per year. ADR deaths were significantly more likely in persons older than 55 years. The risk was greatest in those aged 75 years or older (OR 6.96, 95% CI 6.30 to 7.69). ADR deaths were higher among men than women. Rates varied by race and ethnicity and were highest among blacks (OR 1.38, 95% CI 1.23 to 1.54). Geographically, rates varied widely between states. Based on urbanization, rates were highest in extremely rural (non-core) areas (OR 2.05, 95% CI 1.76 to 2.38). The most common drug classes associated with death were anticoagulants, opioids, and immunosuppressants.

Conclusions: ADR death rates have a clear association with age, race, and urbanization subgroups. Older individuals, males, blacks, and individuals residing in extremely rural areas experienced higher ADR death rates; these findings warrant further study to develop prevention strategies.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Adverse Drug Reaction Reporting Systems / statistics & numerical data*
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions / mortality*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult