Prescription Drug Abuse News

News about prescription drug abuse. News sources about the abuse of prescription drugs is collected from public sources such as news articles, government reports, drug rehabilitation programs, and other public health programs.

See key security threats and facts at our main prescription drug abuse page.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that 807 people in Britain died from overdoses in 2013. More people died from prescription drug abuse than from overdosing on cocaine and heroin, which had a total of 718 deaths.

In total, there are an estimated 32,000 Britons who are addicted to prescription painkillers.

62 million prescriptions were written out by doctors in 2013, and patients spent an estimated $784 Million (£500 Million) purchasing prescription drugs at pharmacies.

(More drug abuse and crime statistics from the United Kingdom.)

Source:  Sophie Borland, “A nation of prescription drug addicts: More Britons die from abusing painkillers and tranquillisers than heroin and cocaine,” Daily Mail, September 8, 2013.

An estimated 78,000 people died from illegal drugs around the world in 2010, according to a study released in the medical journal The Lancet.

Over 55 percent of the deaths were due to overdosing on opioids, such as heroin and prescription drug abuse.

Amphetamines was the most addictive drug around the world, with an estimated 17 million addicts. 15.5 million people were addicted to opioids, and 13 million people were addicted to cannabis.

Marijuana was the most used illegal drug around the world.

(Weed prices by country.)

Source:  AFP, “Heroin, amphetamines head list of problem drugs,” GlobalPost, August 28, 2013.

According to data released by the Office for National Statistics, there were 2,597 drug overdose deaths in England and Wales in 2012. The deaths were from both legal and illegal drugs.

1,706 of the drug-related deaths were men, and 891 were women.

Opiates such as heroin accounted for over half of the drug overdose deaths in 2012. Deaths from mephedrone increased from 29 deaths in 2011 to 52 in 2012.

(Price of heroin by country.)

Source:  James Gallagher, “Wales tops drug poisoning table,” BBC News, August 26, 2013.

(See all crime in the UK statistics.)


In 2012, the total sales of prescription painkillers in the United States was reported to be $9.38 Billion. Sales of the prescription painkiller Oxycontin represented $2.81 Billion of the sales, almost 30 percent of all painkillers dispensed.

Law enforcement officials and health experts believe that the black market in prescription drugs contributes to the high sales. In 2010, a reported 16,652 people in the United States died due to overdosing on opioid painkillers, based on monitoring by public health programs.

Source:  Samuel Adams, “Florida Pain Victims Trapped By Drug Crackdown,” Bloomberg Businessweek, August 16, 2013.

In 2005, the number of stimulants related emergency room visits by 18 to 34 year old people in the United States was 5,600.

In 2011, the number of ER visits increased to 23,000, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

In one-third of the cases, alcohol was also involved.

The stimulants involved in these incidents were prescription drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin.

(Prescription drug abuse statistics and addiction information.)

Source:  Sabrina Tavernise, “New Sign of Stimulants’ Toll on Young,” New York Times, August 8, 2013.

In an article in Bloomberg Businessweek, it was reported that women in Texas are able to purchase abortion pills on the black market. The pills, sold under the brand name Cytotec, requires a prescription and is prescribed by doctors to prevent stomach ulcers. The pill has also been shown to induce abortions.

Women in Texas purchase the pills near the Mexican border for $40. If the woman were to go to a legitimate family planning center, a pharmaceutical abortion would cost $550.

(More black market prices.)

Source:  Esme E. Deprez, “Texas Threat to Abortion Clinics Dodged at Flea Markets,” Bloomberg Businessweek, July 11, 2013.

According to the 2013 World Drug Report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, an estimated 211,000 people died in 2011 to drug related causes around the world. The UNODC states that most of the deaths were among the younger population of users and most were preventable.

Overdosing on opioids such as heroin and prescription painkillers was the most commonly reported groups of drugs that caused deaths in 2011.

(Heroin prices by gram worldwide.)

Source:  United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, “World Drug Report 2013,” Executive Summary, June 2013, page ix.

6,631 women in the United States died from overdosing on opiate pain relievers in 2010. The number of deaths was a five-fold increase from the 1,287 deaths in 1999, according to the Center for Disease Control.

In 2010, the number of men in the United States who died from overdosing on prescription painkillers was 10,020.

In total, the CDC reported that on average about 42 women in the United States die from overdosing on all forms of drugs. Around 18 women die each day from overdosing on prescription painkillers.

943,356 women were admitted into emergency rooms across the country in 2010 due to abusing drugs or misusing them.

Health experts stated that pain killing drugs such as hydrocodone, oxycodone and fentanyl are more likely to be prescribed to women and to receive higher doses.

Source:  JoNel Aleccia, “Opiate overdose deaths ‘skyrocketed’ in women, CDC finds,” NBC News, July 3, 2013.

Security agents in Costa Rica has seen an increase in pharmaceutical drugs that have been trafficked into the country from Nicaragua.

618 units of pharmaceutical drugs were seized in Costa Rica in 2010. The following year, the number of seizures rose to 4,315, and rose again to 7,323 in 2012. In the first four months of 2013, authorities seized 67,381 units of pharmaceutical drugs.

According to law enforcement, the types of drugs smuggled from Nicaragua include analgesics, antibiotics, multivitamins and steroids. The drugs are purchased at a lower price in Nicaragua and are smuggled into Costa Rica by smugglers riding the bus.

(See all statistics about prescription drug abuse.)

Source:  Mario Carrillo, “Costa Rica Sees Explosion of Pharmaceutical Drug Smuggling,” Insight Crime, May 28, 2013.

The Turkish Pharmacologists Association takes between 2 to 30 days to import cancer treatment drugs for over 30,000 patients each month. Due to this delay, a black market managed by hospital staff has developed in hospitals across Turkey.

According to media reports, the cancer treatment drug Deticene normally costs $27 (52 Turkish Liras). If a patient wanted to quickly purchase this drug on the black market, then the price for the drug is $482 (900 Liras). The leukemia treatment drug Purinethol is normally priced at $4.83 (9 Liras), but was being sold by illegal vendors for $64 (120 Liras).

(More abuse statistics and facts about prescription drugs.)

Source:  “Lack of cancer medicine leads to black market,” Hurriyet Daily News, May 28, 2013.