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Prescription Painkiller Deaths Triple in Past Decade

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According to recent reports, deaths from prescription painkiller overdoses are on the rise. In fact, a new government reports shows that overdose deaths have tripled over the past decade, with about 40 Americans dying every day from taking drugs like OxyContin and Vicodin in excessive amounts.

The Centers for Disease Control published the report and found that in 2010 alone there were enough painkillers prescribed that every adult could have a one-month supply. The director of the CDC argues that the abuse of prescription painkillers isn’t about drug pushers standing on street corners, but a problem with a few irresponsible doctors.

CDC officials and the White House say that states can help curb the disturbing trend by closely monitoring prescriptions and cracking down on "pill mills" and "doctor shopping" by patients. Specifically, doctors should limit prescribing of painkillers to a three-day supply for those patients with acute pain–narcotics should be a last resort before other alternatives are tried to stem pain.

A federal drug plan announced earlier this year calls on states to track painkiller prescriptions, and all but two states have approved such plans. However, a number of states still don’t have their programs in place or doctors aren’t using the program to check patients’ histories of prescription painkiller use. Overall, the CDC realizes that this epidemic isn’t going to be fixed overnight, but that doctors and states must work together to stop the problem.