States also need to shut down pill mills and doctor shopping, Frieden said. Doctors can have their license revoked for prescribing abuses, he said.
Dr. Jeffrey N. Bernstein, medical director of the Florida Poison Information Center at the University of Miami, said that "poisoning death has now become the number-one cause of unintentional death, surpassing car accidents. A large percentage of those deaths involve opioid pain meds."
One reason these drugs have become so popular is that they're relatively easy to get, Bernstein said. "It's a lot easier to go to a doctor and get a prescription, or to buy somebody's prescription, or to steal it out of somebody's medicine cabinet than it is to go to one of the bad neighborhoods and take a chance with a dealer where you are somewhat risking your own life," he said.
For more on prescription drug abuse, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: Jeffrey N. Bernstein, M.D., medical director, Florida Poison Information Center, University of Miami; Nov. 1, 2011, teleconference with': Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., director, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Nov. 1, 2011, CDC, Vital Sign Report: Prescription Painkiller Overdoses in the U.S.
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