Prescription drugs take more lives than illegal drugs

Posted: Aug 30, 2013 9:18 PM PDT
Updated: Aug 30, 2013 9:41 PM PDT
By Jessica Flores, FOX 10 News - bio

PHOENIX - The deadliest drugs on the planet can be found in a pharmacy near you. Prescription painkillers take more lives than any illegal drug, according to a global study out of the University of Washington. And experts have a grave assessment of the trend.

"The largest manmade epidemic in the country."

Dr. Ravi Chandiramani of Journey Healing Centers says part of the problem is painkillers are more accessible than ever.

"Just to give some historical context, these types of medications were largely reserved for the most chronic recalcitrant pain cases. They were the last resort.

Not the case nowadays."

According to the Centers for Disease Control, drug overdoses kill more people than car accidents and guns, and it's getting worse among women. The CDC says women were four times as likely to die from prescription painkiller overdoses than overdose from cocaine and heroin deaths.

"The earlier somebody is exposed to these medications the greater the risk to dependency and long term addiction as well," says Dr. Chandiramani.

The University of Washington study says the most popular drug is marijuana, but out of nearly 80,000 drug deaths nationwide, prescriptions account for more than half.

"You'd be hard pressed in this day and age not to find a single person affected by this or who knows a friend a family who's been affected by this."