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Hydrocodone Prescriptions Show Dramatic Increase

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Prescriptions for the painkiller hydrocodone/acetaminophen* have increased dramatically, from 121 million doses in 2006 to 131 million today, a new national survey shows. The survey, conducted by IMS Health, showed hydrocodone/acetaminophen prescriptions far outpaced the runner-up, the cholesterol drug simvastain (Zocor).

ABC News reports that the United States consumes 80 percent of the world’s opioids, and 99 percent of the world’s hydrocodone. More than 600,000 doctors are licensed by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency to prescribe hydrocodone/acetaminophen, according to ABC News. Primary care doctors write the most prescriptions for the drug, followed by internists and dentists. Critics say hydrocodone is often the drug of choice because it is not as tightly regulated as other narcotic painkillers, according to the news report.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said accidental overdoses of hydrocodone/acetaminophen and other narcotic painkillers kill more people than car accidents in 17 states.

*Both this article and the original ABC News piece  used the brand name Vicodin, but were meant to include the term hydrocodone/acetaminophen.

2 Responses to this article

  1. Avatar of Etienne
    Etienne / May 2, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Agree the numbers are not shocking and the ABC piece a bit strange, including the use of content that gave the impression it was quoted, but was not. The IMS study linked by JT actually has some very useful information and JT moved it forward to us like they always have. Let’s not shoot the delivery folks — the last month of content has been great. What’s more worrisome is that ABC reported this story incorrectly generalizing the brand for overall hydrocodone products that are largely generic. I say hats off to JT for pointing out that error.

  2. Avatar of Edward Mattison
    Edward Mattison / May 2, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    I found this article quite strange. It is hard to see an increase of 8% in prescriptions over 6 years as evidence of a dangerous trend. The Join Together newsletter had a well deserved reputation for sticking to the facts and keep the editorials separate. I hope you continue that policy at your new home. Ed

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