New federal data show deaths from prescription painkillers have decreased for the first time since 1999, while heroin deaths have surged, suggesting some addicts may have turned to illicit drugs as new federal and state restrictions made prescription narcotics harder to get, reported USA Today.
Abuse of prescription opioids, such as the powerful painkiller OxyContin, fueled a surge in overdose deaths, which quadrupled from 4,030 deaths in 1999 to 16,917 deaths in 2011. The numbers are based on mortality data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 2012, the latest year available, deaths from prescription painkillers dropped 5% to 16,007, according to CDC data made public by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Deaths from all categories of prescription drugs dropped 3%, the data shows.
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