The US spends around $15 billion a year fighting illegal drugs, often on foreign soil. But America’s deadliest drug epidemic begins and ends at home. More than 15,000 Americans now die annually after overdosing on prescription painkillers, more than from heroin, cocaine and all other illegal drugs combined. When they overdose, they often die alone, at home or in a hotel room.
In the October 6-7th edition of the Wall Street Journal, Thomas Catan and Gary Rosen write that "the legality of prescription painkillers makes their abuse harder to tackle. There is no Pablo Escobar to capture or kill. Authorities must contend with aninfluential lobby of industry representatives and doctors who argue against more restrictions, saying they would harm legitimate patients. And lawmakers have been reluctant to have the federal government track Americans’ prescriptions, leaving states to piece together a patchy, fragmented response."
Some drug stores have been taken to court for filling prescriptions without question, often for addicts who will sell the pills on the street. The DEA has revoked the licenses of two Florida CVS stores for selling excessive amounts of oxycodone without making sure that the pills weren’t diverted to the black market. They also served Walgreens with a suspension order halting sales of controlled substances from its Jupiter, Florida distribution center, calling it an "imminent threat to public safety," since the facility was the state’s largest oxycodone distributor.
The authors quote the parents of a girl who overdosed on prescription drugs as saying, "Jackie didn’t wake up one day and say, ‘Hey, I’m going to be a drug addict today.’ Jackie pretty much got sent there by a doctor, got hooked and continued to go back," when all she wanted was to be healed (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to these shows).