A three-year study conducted by the Drug and Poison Information Centre at Hinduja Hospital, Mahim, has revealed that more than 50% of those who chose drug overdose as a method to attempt suicide consumed sleeping pills.
The Centre provides emergency information by phone, fax and email to doctors treating patients who have consumed poison. Started in October 2007, the Centre received 55 calls regarding patients, who consumed sleeping pills in its first two months of functioning. The number of calls recorded a steady rise with 212 calls in 2008, 297 in 2009 and 340 in 2010. In 2010, the Centre received 904 calls from doctors related to patients, who had taken an overdose of sleeping pills.
Anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and paracetamol and anti-depressants were the next most abused drugs.
“There should be some regulation to ensure that people do not have easy access to these drugs,” said Dr TF Ashavaid, head, laboratory medicine department, Hinduja Hospital. According to the doctor, many patients use a combination of drugs in an attempt to kill themselves. “It becomes very difficult for the doctors treating them to find an antidote for the drugs consumed.”
Other doctors said that drug overdose cases are on the rise. “I get an average of four patients every month. It becomes a difficult task to find out the consumed drug from the drowsy patient and their upset relatives. Strict norms against easy availability of these drugs would reduce such incidences,” said Dr Kavita Agarwal, physician from Borivli. “There are cases where elders in the family have been prescribed sleeping pills, which are misused by others. Strict norms for chemists would help,” said Dr Gaurav Gupta, physician at Cumballa Hill.