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According to a recent study of DEA statistics carried out by the Associated Press, consumers have nearly doubled the amount of money spent on narcotic analgesics between 1997 and 2005.

According to the study, the consumption of five major painkillers – codeine, morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and meperidine – rose 88 percent between 1997 and 2005. Oxycontin is primarily responsible for that increase in painkiller use. This drug’s use has jumped nearly six fold according to the report in that time frame.

The AP cited several reasons for the increase in painkiller use: aging populations, marketing campaigns by drug companies, changes in pain management philosophy by doctors, and abuse of/addiction to opiate analgesics.

In May 2007, Purdue Pharma – maker of Oxycontin – was in the news for pleading guilty to ‘misbranding’ Oxycontin, essentially soft-pedaling the addictive properties of the drug to doctors and pharmacists. The company was forced to pay over $600 million in fines and three company directors pleaded guilty to ‘misbranding’ Oxycontin. These executives together were required to pay over thirty million dollars in fines.

For more information on this subject matter, please refer to the section on Drugs, Medical Devices, and Implants.

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