Prescription Drugs Deaths – Nearly 15,000 American deaths have been linked to prescription painkiller drugs in 2008. The statistics are higher than the outstripped fatalities like cocaine and heroin combined, U.S. health officials said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that as of last year 12 million Americans were using opioid or narcotic pain relievers, such as Vicodin, OxyContin and methadone, for the high they cause instead of their true medical purpose, or without a legitimate prescription.
Many get the drugs by eliciting from several doctors, also known as “doctor shopping,” or through so-called “pill mills,” forgery rings and illegal online pharmacies. The amount of painkillers made available at U.S. pharmacies, hospitals and doctors’ offices quadrupled from 1999 to 2010, contributing to the overdose death rate that more than tripled over the decade.
There were enough painkillers prescribed last year to medicate every American adult every four hours for a month.
“The system is awash with opioids, drugs that get people hooked and keep them hooked,” CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said told reporters in a phone briefing.
By state, it found the painkiller abuse problem at its worst in Oklahoma, where more than 8 percent of people over the age of 12 abused opioid pain relievers in 2008 to 2009. New Mexico, West Virginia and Nevada saw the most people killed by the abuse. The lowest death rate was in Nebraska.
In recent crackdowns, U.S. authorities have made arrests in Florida, where CDC has found the highest rate of prescription painkillers sold per person, and suburban Philadelphia.