Toxicology and Characteristics of Fatal Oxycodone Toxicity Cases in New South Wales, Australia 1999–2008

Authors

  • Shane Darke Ph.D.,

    1. National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.
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  • Johan Duflou M.Med.Path.,

    1. National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.
    2. Department of Forensic Medicine, Sydney South West Area Health Service, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
    3. School of Medical Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
    4. Department of Pathology, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
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  • Michelle Torok M.Soc.Sc.

    1. National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.
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  • Funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.

Abstract

Abstract:  All cases of fatal oxycodone toxicity presenting to the New South Wales Department of Forensic Medicine over the period January 1, 1999, to December 31, 2008, were retrieved. A total of 70 cases were identified. The mean age was 48.9 years, 58.6% were men, 21.4% were suicides, and in 30% oxycodone had not been prescribed to the decedent. Injecting drug users constituted 27.1% of cases, and oxycodone tablets were injected immediately prior to death by 21.4%. The mean blood oxycodone concentration was 0.40 mg/L (range 0.06–53.00 mg/L). In all cases, psychoactive substances other than oxycodone were also detected, most frequently hypnosedatives (68.6%), other opioids (54.3%), antidepressants (41.4%), and alcohol (32.9%). Preexisting systemic disease was common: cardiovascular (64.2%), pulmonary (49.3%), hepatic (66.7%), and renal (43.9%).

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