Study calls prescription drug abuse 'epidemic'

A new study finds that prescription drug abuse may be a much more pressing problem than had been thought. The research by a team at the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University describes the abuse of prescription drugs as an "epidemic." Researchers say 15.1 million Americans abuse prescription drugs, a number that is higher than the combined total of those using cocaine, heroin or inhalants. The Washington Post notes that the study was funded by a $1 million grant from Purdue pharma, the maker of the controversial and allegedly widely-abused painkiller OxyContin.

In surveys conducted for the study, many doctors and pharmacists said they have received "inadequate" training to help them deal with pain-relievers, stimulants and other controlled prescription drugs. Four-in-10 doctors said they have received no training on the issues involved. Given that several physicians are in jail for writing scripts to people they thought were patients, but turned out to be drug dealers, anxiety about this issue is very high in the pain treatment community.

- see this story from The Washington Post
- see this story from the Associated Press