A new report issued by the New York state attorney general reveals a staggering 82 percent increase in oxycodone prescriptions from from 2007 to 2010.
Overall narcotics prescriptions have increased from 16.6 million to 22.5 million.
The statistics were a part of New York's Prescription Monitoring Program, which requires pharmacies to routinely provide data on dispensed substances to the state's health department, and was proposed by State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's to address the growing abuse epidemic in the state.
Wednesday's report alluded to the tragic murder of four people in a Long Island pharmacy, when a man looking for pain killers opened fire and murdered the individuals execution style. The report also cites a lack in education and communication between practitioners a one of the primary reasons behind the rapid increase.
Prescription drug abuse is on the rise, leading to more pharmacy robberies, and the main substances involved are oxycodone and hydrocodone. These drugs are necessary for many people. They're being prescribed more and more, and this may in some cases reflect physicians who seem unaware how easy it is to become addicted, and need to be more careful with their pads. It is also, though, just the reality of an aging population that requires more pain management.
According to the study, a high number of prescriptions were filed in areas of Suffolk County and on Staten Island. Last summer, 25 people were arrested in connection to "Operation Bitter Pill," with 8 arrested for selling prescription drugs out of a bagel store in Staten Island.
As for New York City, an earlier study showed more than 1 million prescriptions for oxycodone, equating to 13 percent of the city's population.
Special narcotics prosecutor Bridget Brennan referenced the need for public education around the dangerous effects of the opiate-based pain reliever:
The public flat out needs to be better informed about how widespread the problem is and how dangerously addictive these substances are. It's pure opium. And that's an addictive drug. It's nothing to be played with.
The Morning Email helps you start your workday with everything you need to know: breaking news, entertainment and a dash of fun. Learn more