Americans Double Use of Pain Meds

Led by Oxycodone, sales of painkillers soared 90% in 8 years
By Heather McPherson,  Newser User
Posted Aug 20, 2007 9:40 AM CDT
Retired U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. James Fernandez, 54, of Fredericksburg, Va., holds a tray containing part of the daily prescription medicines he uses to overcome his severe pain, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2007....   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Retail sales of five major painkillers rose a whopping 90% from 1997 to 2005, a new AP analysis of DEA statistics shows. The increase is driven by Oxycodone, the chemical used in OxyContin, which has seen sales increase nearly 600%. Causes include an aging population, huge new drug marketing campaigns, and an increased willingness by doctors to prescribe the meds.

With the increase is coming a corresponding spike in painkiller abuse, particularly of oxycodone. "I'm concerned, and many people are concerned, that the pendulum is swinging too far back," a New York doctor tells the AP. On the other hand, some doctors say fears of abuse are causing them to be targeted for providing medicines their patients desperately need.