Special report: The dangers of painkillers
Every year, Percocet, Vicodin, and other opioids kill 17,000 Americans and acetaminophen sends 80,000 people to the ER
America is in pain—and being killed by its painkillers.
Use of those and other opioids has skyrocketed in recent years. Prescriptions have climbed 300 percent in the past decade, and Vicodin and other drugs containing the narcotic hydrocodone are now the most commonly prescribed medications in the U.S. With that increased use have come increased deaths: 46 people per day, or almost 17,000 people per year, die from overdoses of the drugs. That’s up more than 400 percent from 1999. And for every death, more than 30 people are admitted to the emergency room because of opioid complications.