Las Vegas Sun

June 18, 2018

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Painful Painkillers

A Sun investigation reveals a confounding crisis — Nevadans consume about twice the national average per capita of prescription narcotics.

Painkillers play a vital role in medicine, but experts struggle to explain why so many are consumed in Nevada.

Theories abound — the black market is thriving, tourists drive up the numbers and hurried doctors may too quickly write prescriptions.

One thing is sure: As the rate of painkiller use climbs, so too does abuse. And Clark County's overdose deaths from prescription narcotics now outnumber those from street drugs.

How we did it: Tracking Nevadans' Appetite for Painkillers

Nevada AG’s office suing drugmaker over opioid claims
Nevada AG’s office suing drugmaker over opioid claims
Tuesday, May 15, 2018
One of the country’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturers knowingly exaggerated claims about the effectiveness of its drugs to mislead Nevada doctors to prescribe more ...
Photo: Anne Hazlett, left, USDA Assistant to the Secretar
'This is an issue of rural prosperity': Nevada roundtable spotlights opioid epidemic in small communities
Sunday, March 25, 2018
In the last few years, the opioid epidemic has battered every corner of the United States, and its victims come from all walks of life, but rural portions of the country face unique challenges ...
Photo: Judge Dan Polster in the Carl B. Stokes U.S. Court
Can this federal judge solve America's opioid crisis?
Tuesday, March 6, 2018
Judge Dan Aaron Polster of the Northern District of Ohio has perhaps the most daunting legal challenge in the country: resolving more than 400 federal lawsuits brought by ...
New Nevada law to begin fast-track opioid data collection
Tuesday, December 26, 2017
Nevada is expanding provisions of a prescription medication registry designed to fast-track the collection of information about overdose deaths, flag excess dispensing of powerful painkillers, and help curb ...
Clark County to file opioid lawsuit against big pharma
Clark County to file opioid lawsuit against big pharma
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
Clark County commissioners voted unanimously today to sue major pharmaceutical companies for their role in creating the opioid epidemic. District Attorney Steve Wolfson will work with Las Vegas-based law firm Eglet Prince on the ...
Photo: House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), center, and Rep.
House Republicans aim to yank tax credits for orphan drugs
Saturday, November 4, 2017
As part of a sweeping tax reform bill, House Republicans on Thursday proposed eliminating billions of dollars in corporate tax credits that have played a key role in the booming “orphan drug” industry. For more than three decades ...
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Age of anxiety: Prozac nation is now the United States of Ativan
Monday, June 19, 2017
As depression was to the 1990s — summoned forth by Kurt Cobain, “Listening to Prozac,” Seattle fog and Temple of the Dog dirges on MTV, viewed from under a flannel blanket — so it seems we have entered a new Age of Anxiety ...
Bill allows pharmacists to dispense opioid overdose antidotes without prescription
Bill allows pharmacists to dispense opioid overdose antidotes without prescription
Thursday, June 1, 2017
Sprinkle said reforms from the 2015 session opened up access to Narcan for first responders and some others. Family members and friends of drug users ...
Photo: A man is given as many new syringes as he can carr
Health district, humanitarian crusaders make the case for local needle exchanges
Monday, April 24, 2017
Deaths from opioid overdose have quadrupled since 1999. The CDC points to the dramatic rise in doctors prescribing oxycodone, fentanyl and methadone to treat pain — legal substances that can be gateways to illegal drug use and addiction. Two local efforts to combat the impacts showcase a fundamental divide in ...
Photo: Students of Roseman University's College of Pharma
Pouches aim to take leftover prescription drugs out of valley homes
Saturday, December 3, 2016
A student narrating the presentation explained the simple chemistry of the process: The drug contents bind to charcoal inside the pouch and are deactivated ...
Advocates hope shaming drugmakers discourages price spikes
Monday, July 11, 2016
Frustrated by the rising cost of prescription drugs, California health advocates hope sunlight and a dose of shame will discourage drugmakers from raising their prices too quickly or introducing new medications at prices that break the bank ...
We have a prescription pill problem
We have a prescription pill problem
Monday, September 28, 2015
Fourteen years sober from drugs, Lin Michaels was written two prescriptions for narcotic painkillers by her doctor: one for hydrocodone, another for methadone. She was in pain. It was the mid-2000s when ...
Chasing the synthetic high: ‘Legal’ drugs are causing trouble for law enforcement
Chasing the synthetic high: ‘Legal’ drugs are causing trouble for law enforcement
Monday, June 22, 2015
Constantly changing cocktails of ingredients with unpredictable effects are meant to mimic more established illicit drugs
They come with names like Vanilla Sky, Cloud 9 and Ivory Wave — pale, flaky powders in packets decorated with bubbles or flowers and labeled for innocuous uses: potpourri, plant food or most commonly ...
Event offers chance to get rid of unwanted prescription meds
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Are unwanted prescription medications cluttering your cabinets? A prescription pill turn-in event will be held from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at ...
Photo: Blossoms from a Palmer's penstemon are shown at th
Season to suffer: Here’s why your allergies are flaring up
Thursday, March 19, 2015
Las Vegas allergy sufferers are in for a long week, as a high pollen forecast will continue to trigger the all-too-familiar symptoms of sneezing, runny nose, sore throat and watery eyes. It's all part of the spring allergy season. The potent allergens in the air are coming from ...