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A gigantic problem

Tuesday, Jul 8, 2014

* Click the pic for a larger image…

* From the Scientific American article

The rate of prescriptions that doctors write for painkillers varies widely by state, with states in the South having some of the highest rates, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. […]

In 2012, there were 259 million prescriptions written for opioid painkillers in the United States, which is enough for every adult in the country to have a bottle of pills, the report said.

Southern states — particularly Alabama, Tennessee and West Virginia — had the most painkiller prescriptions per person, the report said. For example, in Alabama, there were 143 prescriptions for opioid prescriptions written for every 100 people. That’s about three times the rate seen in Hawaii, which had the lowest rate among U.S. states, with 52 prescriptions per 100 people.

The rate of prescriptions for oxymorphone, one type of opioid painkiller, was about 22 times higher in Tennessee than in Minnesota, which had the lowest rate of prescriptions for that drug, the report said.

The full study is here.

* While Illinois is definitely on the low side both nationally and regionally, 68 out of every 100 Illinoisans had a pain-killer prescription in 2012.

In Indiana, though, 109 pain-killer scripts were handed out in 2012 for every 100 people. In Kentucky, it was 128 per 100 people. In Michigan, it was 107 per 100 people

Wow.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


63 Comments
  1. - Norseman - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:12 am:

    Proof that Illinois is not such a pain afterall?


  2. - Nonplussed - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:14 am:

    So whoever called Oxycontin “Hillbilly heroin” was on to something?


  3. - PublicServant - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:15 am:

    === states in the South having some of the highest rates===

    No wonder they trend Republican.


  4. - Timmeh - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:15 am:

    And that’s only physical pain killers. Add in anti-depressants and I’m sure it’s much higher.


  5. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:15 am:

    Prescription narcotics is the heroin for poor white people in rural America.


  6. - Person 8 - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:17 am:

    Compare this map to this one:

    http://capitolfax.com/2014/07/08/a-gigantic-problem/

    Very interesting at how similar they are.


  7. - Concerned - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:18 am:

    Actually, heroin is now cheaper and more readily available than prescription opiates, so heroin is now the hillybilly oxycotin. Of course, Rush can still afford his oxycontin.


  8. - Stones - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:18 am:

    Interesting post. I was watching a program about the decade of the ’90’s last night on NGTV and they talked about his very thing. Apparently I was in the minority because I have only been prescribed painkillers two or three times in my entire life (and then only a week or two worth).


  9. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:20 am:

    Yeah, but let’s worry about reefer madness.

    Big Pharma and a bunch of unscrupulous, paid-off, “leading” Dr. Feelgoods have been on a 20-year campaign to get America hooked on this garbage. Clearly, they’ve been winning.

    http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-rx-big-pharma-suit-20140522-story.html#page=1


  10. - RonOglesby - Now in TX - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:24 am:

    Not sure that is 68 people out of 100 had a script for pain meds… This makes it seem like 68 out of 100 are on meds or have a script RIGHT NOW.. or that 68 people out of 100 had a script this year.

    Looking at my situation I had some pain killers (like 3 days worth) after an appendectomy. then a couple of months later I broke a wrist and had a second script. for like a weeks worth.

    There are 2 written scripts counted right there. While my wife, and kids had none.

    My brother-in-law had cancer. Must have had 5-10 pain killing scripts in the last 3 months.

    So its really written scripts (raw number) vs population. And when you run out (30 days, 60 days, 1 week, whatever) A renewal is a new script.

    Something to put the numbers in a little perspective.


  11. - Lurker - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:28 am:

    It may not be a perfect correlation, but I would think it might be partially tied to obesity rates. Obesity is hard on joints, leading to more pain, thus states with higher rates of obesity might have more painkillers.

    The Southern obesity rates are generally higher, if I do recall.


  12. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:29 am:

    ===This makes it seem like===

    Read, please. It’s all prescriptions for 2012.


  13. - Nonplussed - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:32 am:

    (I am putting my tinfoil hat on here).

    What I love is when a new painkiller comes out, you will know because there will be stories about how it is too powerful/dangerous. IMHO it is Big Pharma priming the pump so that people start asking for it. Like this: http://www.forbes.com/sites/melaniehaiken/2014/02/28/is-zohydro-the-super-potent-new-opiate-painkiller-just-too-dangerous/


  14. - Upon Further Review - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:33 am:

    Maybe Illinoisans are self-medicating themselves to cope with the pain.


  15. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:36 am:

    17,000 fatal painkiller overdoses a year, 80% unintentional.

    http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/overdose/facts.html


  16. - wayward - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:38 am:

    But if it’s “68 prescriptions per 100 people,” does that really mean that 68 out of 100 people got painkiller prescriptions in a year? Some people who use painkillers get more than one prescription, which would skew the numbers.


  17. - DuPage - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:38 am:

    I keep reading about a heroin epidemic in DuPage county. Maybe people are not able to get the prescription drugs and are getting into illegal drugs?


  18. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:39 am:

    ===does that really mean that===

    Sigh.

    Are you really that dense?


  19. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:40 am:

    Fascinating, and useless, data that once again proves that people find what other people do in their private lives as needing to be regulated by other people who don’t know them or their doctors.


  20. - train111 - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:41 am:

    I keep reading about the heroin epedemic in DuPage too, and the heroin highway–I-88 and the Eisenhower that people use toaccess the drug markest.
    Imagine that, rich white suburbanites poo-pooing all the violence in Chicago getting into their cars and driving down to Austin to get their heroin.


  21. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:43 am:

    –Fascinating, and useless, data that once again proves that people find what other people do in their private lives as needing to be regulated by other people who don’t know them or their doctors.–

    Somebody obviously hijacked VMan’s handle.

    If not, your lack of self-awareness regarding your hypocrisy is truly breathtaking.


  22. - BIG R. Ph. - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:43 am:

    It just goes to show the success of the Prescription Monitoring Program. If someone is keeping an eye on you and you know it you are less likely to do something.

    This along with the Methcheck program has substantially decreased these kinds of problems in Illinois. You can especially see this in the rates of Illinois vs Indiana & Kentucky.


  23. - Cable Line Beer Garden - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:45 am:

    I worry about what does ingesting and eliminating all of those drugs do to our water supply.


  24. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:49 am:

    If not, your lack of self-awareness regarding your hypocrisy is truly breathtaking.

    Whenever I need self-awareness, I take a blue pill. When I need to overcome my hypocrisy, I take a little red one. And whenever I find myself needing to take extra breath, I have a nice inhaler.

    But that medication you are on to control your outrages seems to be wearing off, isn’t it?


  25. - Chicago Cynic - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:49 am:

    Apparently you have to be medicated to live in the South or Indiana. Hmmm.


  26. - Nonplussed - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:51 am:

    Cable Line Beer Garden: Don’t drink out of strange toilets.


  27. - Ken_in_Aurora - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:55 am:

    “I worry about what does ingesting and eliminating all of those drugs do to our water supply.”

    Slower fish with munchies that are easier to catch?

    Seriously, a close family member is on several different painkiller scripts at one time all the time. She’s an amputee with nerve injuries, and they are all that stands between something approaching a normal life and unbearable misery. Not all painkiller use is abuse.


  28. - A guy... - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:55 am:

    I’m in the minority. What the hell am I missing?


  29. - PoolGuy - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:56 am:

    Vman can you just agree that 259 million scripts for painkillers is a tad excessive regardless of patients and their doctors??? lol

    if there were 2-3 billion people in this country then I wouldn’t be shocked, but US pop is 315 million…


  30. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:58 am:

    –But that medication you are on to control your outrages seems to be wearing off, isn’t it?–

    I’d say amused, not outraged.

    Glad to hear you don’t want anyone getting between doctors and their patients, lol.

    Good luck with those pills.


  31. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:59 am:

    A Guy, read the article. If you need more, google “CDC painkiller abuse,” and “big pharma lawsuits painkillers.”


  32. - PoolGuy - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 12:05 pm:

    I don’t think this is what Timothy Leary had in mind…


  33. - Ed - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 12:16 pm:

    The Prescription Monitoring Program [PMP] in Illinois does little to impact drug abuse.The spread of cheap, heroin that you can smoke,snort or shoot up has many former pill junkies using H,which possibly decreased “doctor shopping”and other diversion techniques.


  34. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 12:20 pm:

    Even in the “best” states, there are at least 50 prescriptions per 100 people.

    These are some strong prescriptions, and that is a scary map.


  35. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 12:27 pm:

    == The spread of cheap, heroin ==

    WBEZ and the Chicago Reader have done some great work covering the way Chicago has become a major heroin hub for Mexican cartels. What the Sinaloa cartel in particular has managed to do in such a short time span is chilling.


  36. - CirularFiringSquad - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 12:32 pm:

    Wondering why the whack jobs are praising IL for not leading the nation? Oh, right, they are Celebrants of Failure and can only rejoice when the state is supposed to be be at the bottom.


  37. - a drop in - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 12:36 pm:

    -Cable Line Beer Garden: Don’t drink out of strange toilets.-

    Thanks for the warning. I just informed my dog.


  38. - OldSmoky2 - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 12:38 pm:

    ==I worry about what does ingesting and eliminating all of those drugs do to our water supply.==

    That is a serious issue, IMHO. I took an environmental law class last summer and learned that pharmaceuticals are not filtered out of wastewater. And much of what we take ends up going right through our bodies into the wastewater and then, in our case, into our freshwater supply, Lake Michigan. That convinced me to buy a good water filtering system.
    To the post, some doctors do seem a bit cavalier. When I broke my wrist playing softball a number of years ago, on my first trip back to the doctor a week or so later he asked if I needed more painkillers. Nope, I told him, I’m OK, I quit taking them after two or three days when the initial soreness wore off. He insisted on writing the prescription anyway, “in case you change your mind and want them.” It felt kind of creepy when he wanted to give me another one the next visit, even after I told him I’d never filled the previous one.


  39. - Upon Further Review - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 12:42 pm:

    @Formerly Known As:

    More benefits and blessings from an open border: free access to Mexican drug cartels into Illinois.


  40. - Person 8 - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 12:43 pm:

    Posted wrong link in my last post:

    Compare this map to this one:

    http://capitolfax.com/2014/06/25/ever-get-the-feeling-youve-been-cheated/
    Very interesting at how similar they are.


  41. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 12:43 pm:

    Timmeh, c’mon man. Painkiller use, and abuse, has very little to with antidepressants. It’s not as if one can crush up a Prozac and get high.


  42. - Lil Squeezy - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 12:44 pm:

    I have a sister who is/was a pill addict. She has a variety of health issues, some of which probably require some pills. But I am always shocked how easily she gets a prescription to drugs she has previously or is currently addicted to.

    Note that she is not like a friend of mine who has had 4 back surgeries and is a pill addict out of necessity.


  43. - Nonplussed - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 12:52 pm:

    Person 8: Why don’t we add state testing while we’re at it (you have to scroll down to the composite map since the ACT and SAT dominate in different regions.

    http://bystatemap.com/50/act-and-sat-scores-composite/


  44. - Lil Squeezy - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 12:58 pm:

    Upon further review,

    “More benefits and blessings from an open border: free access to Mexican drug cartels into Illinois.”

    Um ok. How do you propose we close the border to keep the cartels out? Please say build a wall.


  45. - wayward - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 1:02 pm:

    You claimed, ” While Illinois is definitely on the low side both nationally and regionally, 68 out of every 100 Illinoisans had a pain-killer prescription in 2012.” I was trying to point out politely that 68 painkiller prescriptions per 100 people did not necessarily mean that 68 out of 100 Illinoisans had been prescribed painkillers in 2012. If you have a population of 100 people, and one of them gets three prescriptions in a year, you’d have three prescriptions per 100 people, but still only one person receiving a prescription. Pretty basic math concept.


  46. - Soccermom - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 1:03 pm:

    Rich, I’m sorry to be dense. But I haven’t had a painkiller prescription in more than 20 years. So when they say “prescription,” does that include refills? And is there a limit to the number of refills on an opioid?

    Because if this includes multiple prescriptions for people with chronic pain, that’s less alarming.

    I read the Scientific American article a couple of times, and I didn’t see this question answered.


  47. - Chris - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 1:10 pm:

    Rich–you wrote is wrong once–in the first embedded link to just the chart:

    “68 out of every 100 Illinoisans had a pain-killer prescription in 2012″

    Is not correct. There were 68 scripts written for every 100 Illinoisans–which is something different.


  48. - Diogenes in DuPage - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 1:17 pm:

    ===It just goes to show the success of the Prescription Monitoring Program. If someone is keeping an eye on you and you know it you are less likely to do something.

    This along with the Methcheck program has substantially decreased these kinds of problems in Illinois. You can especially see this in the rates of Illinois vs Indiana & Kentucky.=== (BIG R. Ph.)

    Are the numbers in the South more reflective of those states’ reluctance to legislate “against business”?


  49. - Joe Bidenopolous - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 1:46 pm:

    We have some controls in place here in Illinois that have helped reduce the number of suspect prescriptions for opioids that don’t exist in other states.

    Whether it’s due to drug companies pushing their products, lax oversight or downright criminality among docs or some combination thereof, opioid addiction has become a very real concern throughout the nation.

    As I and many others see it though, the real problem with this is that once a person gets addicted to the pills but no longer has access to prescriptions, they tend to go to the next best thing - heroin - which leads to all sorts of problems, including violence.

    I’d like to see these numbers juxtaposed with the rates of heroin addiction. I wouldn’t be surprised to see an inverse correlation between the two (ie, states with high heroin addiction having lower prescription rates and vice versa).


  50. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 1:47 pm:

    Vman can you just agree that 259 million scripts for painkillers is a tad excessive regardless of patients and their doctors???

    I’m not a doctor, nor a pharmacist, nor outraged, nor morally shocked enough by what prescription drugs are needed and by whom, to really know the answer to that question - and frankly, neither is anyone else.

    There hasn’t been a single year over the past thirty that I haven’t been prescribed some kind of pain killers for some kind of sports injury.

    As a matter of fact, I just finished tearing up my hammies in some squats. I can sure go for some ibuprophen and wash them down with a shot of whatever it is wordslinger is living off of now that he has finally gotten out of rehab!


  51. - Left Leaner - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 1:53 pm:

    I’m going to need a joint just to cope with this report.


  52. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 2:02 pm:

    –I’m not a doctor, nor a pharmacist…–

    No, you’re just a guy who’s been taking prescription painkillers for thirty years.

    Don’t worry about what I’m drinking. You’ve got your own problems. But thanks for the concern.


  53. - Grandson of Man - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 2:08 pm:

    “No wonder they trend Republican.”

    That and less unionization, worse education, lower rates of people with health insurance, lower wages, anti-gay laws, discriminatory voter laws, more servility to libertarian billionaires, etc.

    Indiana is among the states with much higher pill use than us, as we could see on the map, yet some want to turn us into Indiana. Seriously, no thanks. If you hate it here so much, kindly take yourself and your politics out of Illinois.


  54. - Keyser Soze - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 2:12 pm:

    If it waddles like an epidemic and quacks like an epidemic……….


  55. - PoolGuy - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 2:17 pm:

    “I’m not a doctor, nor a pharmacist…”

    you have to be a doctor to read simple statistics that show lots of Americans are taking painkillers? or that people in certain states appear to be taking them in higher numbers than others?

    I think all Rich was trying to point out is that Americans are taking a crap ton of painkillers. Does that mean everyone is hooked and abusing them? of course not, but its still a lot of pills.

    if the average script was 14 days that’s over 3.5 billions pills, correct? lots of pills for whatever purpose they are being given.


  56. - The KQ - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 2:23 pm:

    I would be curious to see the number of senior living in the states with higher number of pain killers. My mother has peripheral artery disease which is slowly cutting off circulation to her lower leg. She lives on pain killers. Friends have expressed concern about how many pain killers their parents are prescribed as well.

    By the way, a quick word to all of you smokers out there - lung cancer isn’t the only thing that results from smoking. Watching my mom lose her mobility due to PAD - and eventually her leg - has just been horrible.


  57. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 2:25 pm:

    Don’t worry.
    After Obamacare kicks in, there will be a board of some sort or another that will be denying prescriptions to people.


  58. - Confused - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 2:54 pm:

    Pain is bad. We have effective medications to relieve it. Some people are chronically in pain and might have 24 scripts per year (one narcotic and one advanced NSAID x 12 months of refills). This sort of statistic is useless by itself. Further, the idea that some some states have more abuse because the number of scripts/100 residents is high ignores the fact that wide health disparities exist between the states. Perhaps someone should be asking about why so many people are suffering in Michigan and Ohio.


  59. - JB13 - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 2:58 pm:

    I’d be curious to know how this map might compare to a map showing the highest rates of employment in very physically demanding industries/job classifications, for instance, those working in lower-tech manufacturing, oil refineries, trucking, logistics, warehousing, etc. I know a lot of truck drivers and factory workers who, after a couple decades on the job, are all taking painkillers for a variety of ailments stemming from their work. Seems to me you’d find more of those people working those kinds of jobs in the purple-shaded states on that map, like Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, West Virginia, Louisiana, etc., than in states in which more people work in less physically-demanding, information-driven jobs, like New York, Illinois and California. A county-by-county map might help tell that story. And, as others suggested, obesity rates and the share of the population that is elderly likely also plays a role in boosting the usage rates for painkillers.


  60. - Soccermom - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 3:32 pm:

    The article says the authors didn’t find any correlation between the levels of illness and injury in a state and its number of painkiller prescriptions.


  61. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 4:17 pm:

    The WSJ has done some excellent work in this area, much of it archived in the link below.

    They get the health story right, but also dig deep into the Big Pharma marketing and relationships with “leading” doctors that led to the spike in prescribing painkillers.

    In other words, they follow the money, and big.
    money it is.

    http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2013/01/25/wsj-investigation-the-prescription-painkiller-epidemic/#


  62. - walker - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 4:40 pm:

    And most of these drugs are passed unchanged right thru our bodies, into the public waste/water systems.


  63. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 9:10 pm:

    Mom, for the strong stuff (oxycodone family) no refills. New script every time. The Vicodin type stuff allows refills, but the Feds are changing to a no refill basis.

    I assumed that for the purposes of the study that refills counted as prescriptions.

    word, thanks for that WSJ link. As always, following the money helps complete the story. ProPublica also did a national study last year using Medicare data showing which doctors were prescribing what to our seniors. One of the pillars of the local medical community was pushing pain pills like peppermints according to that study-led to a couple weeks tittering and giggling around the country clubs.


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* State of Illinois' woes loom large for local fundraisers
* Implications of 'lockbox' amendment still being examined
* Day center services' pros, cons debated in Springfield
* Bernard Schoenburg: Schobin, Joost among Springfield staff for Mendoza, Duckworth
* Statehouse Insider: The ball's in your court. No, it's in your court.
* Andy Shaw: Radical changes needed for budget negotiations in Illinois
* Our View: Could Madigan bring movement to budget situation?
* Day center services' pros, cons debated
* John Kelker: New website offers tips on money management
* State's woes loom large for local fundraisers


* Lucille Osman
* Bart Umdenstock
* Donald Hertz
* Catherine Biber
* David Weston
* Clifford Rumburg Jr.
* Marie Smith
* Mark Degenhardt
* Ralph 'Blue' Congleton
* Louis Cormier


* US defense secretary arrives in Iraq to assess Mosul fight
* Paul leads Clippers to season-high 133 points vs Pelicans
* Romanians voting in election overshadowed by graft
* Hamilton scores twice, Flames beat Jets 6-2 for 6th straight
* Couture, Labanc help lead Sharks past Hurricanes 4-3

* House lawmakers overcome hurdle on key tra...
* Rodney Davis talks funding with Bloomingto...
* The agency that fought Illiana gets a new ...
* Rep. Dold takes educational cruise down Ch...
* Lawmakers decry high turnover rate of VA h...
* CBD Oil, and politics
* Simon considering state Senate bid
* Killer Congressman Tom MacArthur trying to...
* Shutdown? State may not notice
* Rep. Bob Dold

* Greg Hinz on Politics Look who wants to be......

* Sen. Mark Kirk Cheers Illinoisans, Cubs Du......

* Old School
* No sanctuary for undocumented students at the University of Illinois.
* Holiday Pop-Up Market Saturday, 3pm-9pm
* D.C. map.
* Shedd School as seen in December
* Looking for more ‘REALTORS® Give Back’ stories
* Breaking. Judge orders TRO against Rauner and for state workers.
* Keeping retirement weird. My mother never asked permission to protest.
* Just over 80 days away ‘til Election Day (already?!?), at least for some of us
* TASC Offers Roll Call Videos for Law Enforcement: The Science of Addiction, Building Partnership with Treatment


* Criminal justice, health services stakeholders convene for Data-Driven Health & Justice Conference - Event will emphasize innovative strategies to address “superutilizers” of emergency departments and jails
* Know Before You Go with IDOT'SWinter Road Conditions Map
* Governor’s Export Awards Recipients Announced
* Governor Signs Legislation to Protect Jobs, Ratepayers and Taxpayers
* Give The Gift Of A Lifetime With A College Illinois!® 529 Prepaid Tuition Plan - College Illinois! can help limit or even eliminate future student loan debt




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