Drug overdose deaths have more than tripled in the U.S. since 1990. Opioid painkillers like OxyContin are the cause of three-quarters of those deaths.
Toby Talbot/Associated Press
September 10, 2013 In the latest attempt to stem an epidemic of opioid painkiller overdoses, the FDA tightened prescribing guidelines. The drugs should only be used for patients with severe pain when other treatments have failed, the agency says, not for moderate pain.
Unfortunately, that CT scan probably won't help.
July 30, 2013 Some ibuprofen and maybe some physical therapy are all it takes to make most back pain go away. But a study finds that doctors and patients are increasingly turning to fancy scans and opioid painkillers. They typically don't help, and increase the risk of addiction and overdose.
Drugs found in the medicine chest are claiming more women's lives than cocaine and heroin.
July 3, 2013 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report women are more likely to have chronic pain. They're also more likely to shop around for a doctor who will prescribe pain pills.
Layton, Utah police department employees Holly Plotnick and Shanae Perez pack discarded medications from a collection bin in the lobby in January 2010.
April 24, 2013 Wondering what to do with that Vicodin that's gathering dust in the medicine cabinet? The DEA is happy to take it off your hands. That method spares the environment and solves a pesky problem: giving a narcotic like that to anyone other than the person whose name is on the prescription is a felony.
OxyContin's long-acting formulation makes it popular but also prone to abuse.
April 18, 2013 A push to make narcotic painkillers harder to abuse means that generic versions of OxyContin won't be allowed. But drugs that are more resistant to abuse are expensive and can still be addictive.
Posters like this one tell patients in New York City emergency rooms what to expect when it comes to painkiller prescriptions.
New York City Health Department
March 6, 2013 Many doctors and patients expect too much from prescription opioids as pain relievers, some physicians say. These expectations need to be reined in to curtail drug abuse and overdoses that claim more than 16,000 lives a year in the U.S., they say.
Hydrocodone pills, the generic version of Vicodin, shown at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vt.
February 20, 2013 Pharmaceuticals were involved in more than half of the 38,329 overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2010. Opioid painkillers, such as hydrocodone, were the most common prescription drugs involved. But drugs for mental health conditions were also implicated often.
A pharmacy technician counts generic Vicodin tablets at Oklahoma Hospital Discount Pharmacy in Edmond, Okla.
June 12, 2012 More than 40 states have systems in place to monitor prescription drugs, but budget strains and unwieldy databases have hindered their use by doctors and pharmacists to curb drug abuse.
More people end up in the emergency room from overdosing on Vicodin, pictured here, and other prescription painkillers, than heroin or cocaine, a government report says.
November 1, 2011 A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the nation's emergency rooms are seeing far more overdoses of prescription opioids such as OxyContin and Vicodin than heroin or cocaine.
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