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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

6/2/2011 (4 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Drugs intended for pain and anxiety relief finding their way on to the streets - without prescriptions

Prescription drug abuse is a growing and prevalent fact of life in the United States. Drugs intended to relieve pain and anxieties are finding themselves in the hands of people without prescriptions, leading to addiction and overdose deaths.

As is typical in illegal drug sales, demand is driving the business. Prescription drug abuse is a nationwide problem, but it is particularly rampant in cities like Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago and New York, federal officials say.

As is typical in illegal drug sales, demand is driving the business. Prescription drug abuse is a nationwide problem, but it is particularly rampant in cities like Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago and New York, federal officials say.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/2/2011 (4 years ago)

Published in Business & Economics

Keywords: Prescription drug abuse, OxyContin, Medicare fraud, addicts


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Oxycontin, a drug intended to relieve pain is winding up in the hands of those who want "a quick high," leading many on the street to call it the "poor man's heroin." This abuse is leading to illicit big bucks to suppliers, who mark them up considerably from what those with a legitimate prescription from a doctor usually pay. For example, a tab of Oxycontin can fetch as much as $50 to $80 on the street, compared to $6 when sold legally. Tablets of Percocet can net $10 to $15 versus $6, and Vicodin pills can sell for $5 to $25 on the street versus $1.50 from the pharmacy. As is typical in illegal drug sales, demand is driving the business. Prescription drug abuse is a nationwide problem, but it is particularly rampant in cities like Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago and New York, federal officials say. Marijuana was at one time considered the gateway drug for first-time drug abusers in the United States. Prescription drugs have since won that dubious distinction, according to Rusty Payne, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration. "It's a significant shift in trend," Payne said. In 2009, there were seven million Americans abusing prescription pain and anxiety drugs, up 13 percent from the prior year. The DEA expects 2010 numbers to show another double-digit increase. Need among addicts fuels the demand for drug pushers. The trafficking in prescription drugs is close to becoming a billion-dollar industry, industry experts say. In Los Angeles, 80mg Oxycontin is the most popular drug on the street with addicts. A single pill can fetch $80 or more. "We are rounding up so much prescription [medication] off the street," Sergeant Stephen Opferman of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department says. In many cases, thieves steal legitimate shipments or doctors write false prescriptions that dealers fill and then sell as contraband. Medicare fraud, where traffickers recruit Medicare beneficiaries who are willing to sell their monthly drug supplies for cash, is another way drugs are winding themselves into the wrong hands.

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