America is addicted to painkillers (and we’re worried about weed?) (video)

America is having full-blown love affair with prescription painkillers. So much so that as of May 2012, Americans consume 80% of the world’s painkillers although we have only 5% of the world’s population. But we’re more worried about people using medical marijuana for pain, a medicine that doesn’t lead to addiction and has no history of fatal overdose.

If that doesn’t do it, here are some facts from a September 2012 Pew study that drew from data from the DEA and the CDC:

  • Sales of prescription painkillers to pharmacies and health care providers have increased by more than 300% since 1999.
  • In 2009, the number of people killed by drug poisoning, driven largely by increases in painkiller abuse, surpassed motor vehicle fatalities for the first time.
  • In 2010, more people aged 12 and older abused or were dependent on prescription painkillers than cocaine, heroin, stimulants, and sedatives combined.
  • Deaths from prescription painkiller overdose in the U.S. have more than tripled between 1999 and 2008.
  • In 2009, there were nearly 500,000 emergency room visits spurred by abuse of prescription painkillers.
  • The annual cost to health insurers derived from the non-medical use of prescription painkillers is $72.5 billion.
  • In 2010, 1 in every 20 people in the U.S. age 12 and older reported using prescription painkillers non-medically (i.e. About 12 million people, or more than the population of Ohio).

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Categories: Pharma, United States

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