Painkiller sales soar around US, fuel addiction

CHRIS HAWLEY Associated Press Published:

NEW YORK (AP) -- Sales of prescription painkillers are exploding in new areas, and experts are worried that's creating a wave of addiction.

Pharmacies, hospitals and physicians dispensed the equivalent of 69 tons of pure oxycodone and 42 tons of pure hydrocodone in 2010. That's enough to give 40 5-mg Percocets and 24 5-mg Vicodins to every man, woman and child in the United States.

An analysis by The Associated Press shows distribution of the two drugs is booming from New York's Staten Island to Santa Fe., N.M. Some places saw effective per-capita sales increase sixteenfold between 2000 and 2010.

Oxycodone is the key ingredient in OxyContin, Percocet and Percodan. Hydrocodone is in Vicodin, Lortab and Norco.