Bloomberg News (6/26, Ostrow) reports, “Taking prescription painkillers without a medical need increased 75 percent from 2002 to 2010, and most users were men, according to the first study to look at who is likely to abuse the drugs and how often it occurs.” A research letter published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that men and people between the ages 26 and 49 experienced the greatest increase in prescription medicine abuse, and that over 15,500 people died from overdosing on medicines such as oxycodone — more than twice the number recorded in 2002.
MedPage Today (6/26, Walsh) reports, “To see if this skyrocketing rate of fatal overdoses was accompanied by an overall increase in nonmedical use of these painkillers,” researchers “analyzed data from the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health. … The analysis showed no increase in the number of people reporting any nonmedical use of prescription painkillers, or use on 1 to 200 days in the past year. But the total number of days of use rose by 35% to 612,829,084 in 2010 from 451,031,411 in 2002.”
According to Medscape (6/26, Fox), the study’s lead author “reports that during the study period, the rate of chronic (at least 200 days per year) nonmedical use of the drugs increased significantly (P < .05), although the overall number of people using these drugs for nonmedical purposes did not change."
WebMD (6/26) reports that the "study shows the number of people who abused prescription pain killers for more than 200 days in the last year rose by nearly 75% between 2002-03 and 2009-10." However, "estimates for overall past-year abuse have stayed about the same since 2002."
– “Prescription Painkiller Abuse Surged In U.S., Study Finds, “Nicole Ostrow , Bloomberg News, June 25, 2012.