Easing the Pain
According to the Associated Press, usage of the five most prevalent painkillers has almost doubled in the past eight years. Those painkillers are morphine, codeine, oxycodone, meperidine, and hydrocodone. Bob Kilgore has been in the pharmacy business for years, but lately he has been filling more pain killer prescriptions.
"You know over the past 10 years, and I have been a pharmacist for quite a while, I am seeing more pain pills being prescribed," Kilgore said.
An Associated Press analysis shows the percentage of people using at least one of five major painkillers increased 90 percent between 1997 and 2005. And Missouri leads the nation in the use of the drug oxycodone, up 1,100% over the same period. However, oxycodone is not the only drug Missouri is selling at a high rate. The AP reports, communities around Kansas City sell codeine at some of the highest rates in the country, along with Nashville and Long Island, New York.
The AP analyzed the FDA's data and reports a great deal of codeine users reside in suburban neighborhoods throughout the U.S. And in 2005 retail sold no less than 200,000 pounds of the drugs.
"I think there is also a trend unfortunately in the United States that some of these drugs are being used and prescribed inappropriately for patients that don't really need them and they are ending up on the street," Kilgore said.
This spike in usage could be a dangerous sign pointing towards more addiction to pain killers. However, officials do not think that is the main issue.
"I think one of the reasons its gone up is a lot of the people in the baby boomer generation, medicine has been more available to them. They are a part of the if its wrong then lets fix it, and they expect problems with their body to be fixed, rather than just live with them as people in the past have," Family Health Official Kay Strom said.
An aging and less pain tolerant population are big factors in this increase. And officials still are not sure why Missouri ranks so high in oxycodone usage. Officials are confident they will be able to screen out those who only want the drugs for recreation and be able to help those truly in pain.