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Heroin users are much more likely to be older, whiter and suburban compared with 50 years ago, a new study concludes. They are almost evenly split between men and women, The Washington Post reports.

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Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the state’s largest health insurer, announced it has reduced prescriptions of narcotic painkillers by about 6.6 million pills in the past 18 months.

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The maker of OxyContin announced promising results from a study of a tamper-resistant form of hydrocodone, The Washington Post reports. The Food and Drug Administration has been criticized for approving Zohydro ER (extended release), a pure form of hydrocodone that is not tamper-resistant.

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Advocates say the need to curb the abuse of prescription (Rx) opiates is more urgent than ever, due to a growing epidemic of Rx overdoses from pain medication in Massachusetts and across the country, according The Boston Globe.

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A study of opioid-dependent patients entering drug-treatment programs across the country finds oxycodone is the most popular prescription opioid to abuse because of the quality of the high the drug produces.

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Deaths caused by oxycodone dropped 41 percent in Florida last year, according to a new government report. Deaths linked to methadone, hydrocodone and cocaine also decreased, according to the Miami Herald.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced safety labeling changes for extended-release and long-acting opioid painkillers. The new labels will call attention to the dangers of abuse and possible death, Reuters reports.

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In the first of a two-part series, Join Together speaks with Barry Meier, New York Times reporter and author of the new e-book, “A World of Hurt: Fixing Pain Medicine’s Biggest Mistake,” about the problems with long-term opioid use for treating pain and how it became so widespread.

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Purdue Pharma, which makes the opioid painkiller OxyContin, has compiled a database of about 1,800 doctors it suspects may have recklessly prescribed the drug to people addicted to it, as well as to drug dealers, the Los Angeles Times reports. The company has kept most of the list private.

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The Food and Drug Administration on Friday denied a request from the maker of the painkiller Opana ER to block generic forms of the drug. The decision came as a surprise, Reuters reports.

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