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.