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Prescription painkiller-related deaths increase


NEW YORK Diversion of prescription painkillers and other drugs has led to an increase in deaths from overdoses, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Many drug abusers go “doctor shopping” to find physicians who will prescribe drugs to them, which they can then use to get high. Drugs of particular interest to abusers are methadone, hydrocodone and oxycodone, all opiate-based painkillers.

The study, published in the Dec. issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, analyzed data on deaths from drug overdoses from between 1999 and 2004. The researchers found that deaths from unintentional overdoses increased by 550 percent in West Virginia. More than 60 percent of the deaths in the state were among people using prescription painkillers for which they did not have prescriptions.

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