Painkiller Sales Soar, Fueling Drug Addiction

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Sales of the nation's top prescription painkillers are on the rise in new parts of the country.

An Associated Press analysis shows distribution of oxycodone and hydrocodone soared dramatically between 2000 and 2010.
    
The greatest increases ranged from New York's Staten Island to Santa Fe, N.M.
    
In 2010, pharmacies, hospitals and doctors dispensed the equivalent of 69 tons of oxycodone and 42 tons of pure hydrocodone.

Experts say the push to relieve patients' suffering is fueling a prescription drug addiction epidemic.

"Prescription medications can provide enormous health and quality-of-life benefits to patients," Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, told Congress in March.

"However, we all now recognize that these drugs can be just as dangerous and deadly as illicit substances when misused or abused."

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