Recent plans by drug companies to introduce a new prescription painkiller ten times stronger than Vicodin has consumer advocates concerned. According to an article by Chris Hawley of the Associated Press, thousands of legitimate pain patients are becoming addicted to powerful prescription painkillers.
Prescription painkillers like Oxycontin, led to the deaths of almost 15,000 people in 2008 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Emergency room visits have skyrocketed. Consumer advocates like April Rovero, president of the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse contends that "we just don't need this on the market".
The patient's treating physician must be alert to signs and symptoms of clinical abuse of prescription drug abuse. There are also state and federal laws governing the responsibility of pharmacists to watch for the red flags of addiction and requiring preventative action. Unfortunately, it appears there will be added pressure on healthcare providers to try and prevent abuse of prescription painkillers.