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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Monday, March 26, 2007

Drug poisoning likely claimed Anna Nicole Smith's life

By Carey Goldberg, Globe Staff

If todayís coronerís report is correct, Anna Nicole Smith fell victim to what some researchers consider a growing epidemic of drug poisoning deaths, says Dr. James Wines, an overdose expert at Harvardís McLean Hospital.

The latest figures show that in 2004, poisoning, which includes drug overdoses, claimed the lives of 30,000 Americans, according to the CDC, he said. Another 800,000 suffered through non-fatal poisonings.

Opioids, which include prescription painkillers, appear to be fueling some of the recent surge in deaths caused by legal drugs, Wines said.

The coroner's report said that Smith was taking several different sedatives and sleeping medications along with other drugs.

Researchers need to gain a better understanding of the circumstances surrounding drug-related deaths in order to prevent them, Wines said.

And consumers should be sure to check with their doctors and pharmacists about whether the various drugs theyíre taking could be dangerous in combination.

Posted by Karen Weintraub at 06:56 PM
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