Background and Purpose: The wide availability of medications has led to an increased exposure of humans to the possibility of poisoning. An unavoidable effect due to the availability of these medications has also led to a rising increment in the number of poisoning cases. All drugs, especially when administered in large doses or overextended periods, can initiate a toxic condition. Therefore, the objective of this study was to examine nationwide, the patterns attributed to poisoning, and to describe the sociodemographic, and geographic distribution of poisoning, by identifying the category of substances implicated in these cases.
Data Sources and Methods: A retrospective study based on telephone calls reported on poisoning caused by pharmaceutical products undertaken by the National Poisoning Centre (NPC) in Penang (Malaysia) was used as the basis of this study covering the period between 2010 and 2015. The study included the mode and type of poisoning, exposure routes as well as the incidence locations.
Results: A total of 10,998 cases were examined, finding that females represented 5,899 cases (53.6%) being intoxicated more frequently compared to the number of males, 3,839 (34.9%). The age group of poisoning cases ranged between 20 and 29 years representing 2,579 (23.4%) of reported cases. The common mode of poisoning was attributed to suicide 5,203 (47.3%) from among the 10,998 cases and the highest poisoning agents reported were from the psychiatric group of pharmaceutical products of 2,287 (21%).
Conclusion and Implications: These findings indicate a rising trend of suicidal poisoning attempts between 2013 and 2015, which emphasizes the need for more stringent and effective enforcement protocols to limit the rising incidence of poisoning. As such, analyzing the trends in poisoning in a particular zone periodically could help health policy-makers to develop management policies and prevention strategies.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.