New York City Really Has a Thing for Pain Pills


Not too long after data came out questioning whether America might be addicted to painkillers, additional details have been released about New York City’s pill popping.

From 2008 to 2010, prescriptions for opioid analgesics surged 22 percent, according to The Associated Press (via CBS).

What’s startling: just a fraction of docs wrote the majority of prescriptions — 8,000 physicians, 15 percent of healthcare providers, doled out 80 percent of these meds.

Public health officials say the data prove the need to bolster monitoring efforts, such as a tracking system to prevent over-prescription. They also point to a 30 percent increase citywide in opioid-related deaths since 2005.

As the Voice previously reported, it’s far worse in some boroughs, with these fatalities increasing 150 percent in Staten Island during the same period.

In the state, per capita receipts for the two most popular painkiller scripts — oxycodone and hydrocodone — went up 519 percent since 2000.

Nationally, sales also soared from 2000 to 2010. The Drug Enforcement Administration says that sales of oxy products — such as OxyContin, Percoset, and Percodan — went up sixteenfold in some parts of the country.

Hydrocodone — the active ingredient in Vicodin, Norco, and Lortab — became very big in Appalachia and parts of the Midwest.

The recent developments come as reports question the overall effectiveness of U.S. drug policy.