Studies: Epidemic of prescription-painkiller ODs

October 9, 2013
by Don Sapatkin
Philadelphia Inquirer

Two new sets of statistics, one national and the other local, starkly illustrate an epidemic of prescription-drug overdoses, which have quadrupled since 1999 and suggest what may come next: a resurgence in heroin deaths.

The national report, released Monday by the Trust for America's Health, showed that between 1999 and 2010, deaths from prescription opiates like OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin overtook those from heroin and cocaine combined. Pennsylvania had particularly high death rates and low scores for actions taken to prevent them. New Jersey was the opposite.

The more recent local numbers, released Tuesday by Philadelphia's Office of Addiction Services, showed steady increases in prescription-drug deaths, but an even more dramatic jump in heroin-related deaths, which more than doubled between 2010 and 2012.

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