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Sky-High Prices for Prescription Opioids Sold on Street

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Prices for prescription painkillers sold illegally are sky-high, according to data from federal law enforcement agencies. These prices are creating a fast-growing street market for prescription painkillers.

For example, the street price for brand-name OxyContin is $50 to $80 per pill, while generic oxycodone sells for $12 to $40 per pill. In a pharmacy, both pills sell for around $6, CNN reports.

Prescription drugs have passed marijuana as the most common gateway drug for first-time drug abuse, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Seven million Americans abused prescription pain and anxiety drugs in 2009—a 13 percent increase from the prior year, according to the DEA, which expects another double-digit rise for 2010.

Sergeant Stephen Opferman of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department told CNN that the most worrisome trend he sees is the rise in young teens who are abusing prescription drugs. “The kids think these drugs must be safer than heroin because their parents take them,” he said. “They hold what they call ‘skittles parties’ where they try out sleeping pills, anti-anxiety pills and pain medicine.”

4 Responses to this article

  1. Avatar of Caroline
    Caroline / June 3, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    I think the term opioid is “correct” but opiate is actually more fitting when talking about drugs like Oxycontin. Also, the generic of Oxycontin isn’t oxycodone…its brand name is Percocet.
    Sorry…I felt I had to mention these because I’m researching it for an article and I want to make sure the info is correct.

  2. Avatar of Steve
    Steve / June 1, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Well drugs give a sense of well being just like having a job and doing it well. So it’s the recession that’s causing it and -according to a money magazine expert- a second economic crises is coming, hence; The fall of the American empire.

  3. Jerry Epstein / June 1, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    The “gateway’ drugs are normally alcohol and tobacco (and inhalants), not marijuana or pain pills

    Until prescription is modified to allow some form of monitored registered heavy use we will have the 11,000 or so OD deaths from pain pills annually versus zero deaths for monitored safe use sites in Canada and Australia despite over 5,0000 overdose
    episodes. Such sites also are the greatest source of treatment referrals and early warning.

  4. david / June 6, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    These are in fact gateway drugs despite the traditional belief of tobacco and alcohol being the main gateways. The reason is because they are stealthy, no odor, no risk of carrying substance, easily disposed of, “semi-legal”, easy to use (do not need to inhale or swallow a disgusting tasting drink). These are the perfect gateway drug…and they will absolutely lead to dependency, thus other drugs! Not everyone who uses marijuana becomes dependent. Opiates and Benzo’s are wicked quick in hooking someone!

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