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We have heard the terms before: pill mills, oxy, perc, and other such slang for opioid drugs and their distributors. Each year, opioids kill more people than cocaine and heroin combined. In fact, nearly three out of four drug overdoses are caused by prescription pain killers, also called “opioid pain relievers.” 

The unprecedented rise in overdose deaths in the United States parallels a 300-percent increase since 1999 in the sale of these strong painkillers. The highly lucrative U.S. market for opioids reached $1.5 billion in 2012, and opioids account for almost 30 percent of all prescription costs in the workers’ compensation claims.  These opioids are derived from opium poppy, or synthetic versions of it, and used for pain relief. Examples include hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin) and fentanyl (Duragesic), methadone and codeine.  

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