Las Vegas Sun

February 6, 2016

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Painful Painkillers

Prescription drugs confiscated by the coroner's office in the past six weeks are displayed at the coroner's offices  Wednesday.

Photo by Tiffany Brown / Las Vegas Sun

Prescription drugs confiscated by the coroner's office in the past six weeks are displayed at the coroner's offices Wednesday.

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

Archive highlights

When drugs bring harm not healing

Wed, Oct 15, 2008

Two days before their first wedding anniversary, Andrea Duncan woke up to find her husband, Clint, beside her, dead of a prescription drug overdose. Instead of celebrating their marriage, she ...

Her outlook darkened as her addiction deepened, journal details

Wed, Oct 15, 2008

Staci Voyda’s journal is a stark look into prescription narcotic addiction.

Patient's husband remembers her wry humor, last pain-filled weeks

Wed, Oct 15, 2008

Barbara Baile’s death was both agonizing and avoidable, leaving her husband of 50 years painfully lonely.

The painful truth about Nevada

Sun, Jul 6, 2008

The New Addiction: Part 1: Nevadans consume about twice the national average of several prescription painkillers, making us among the most narcotic-addled populations in the United States, a Sun analysis ...

All stories

Commissioners get 1st look at proposed medical marijuana regulations

Wed, Mar 5, 2014

Dispensaries and other medical marijuana businesses could begin applying for licenses to set up shop in unincorporated Clark County next month, under regulations introduced to the county commission today.

Nevada not setting limit on number of marijuana growers

Wed, Feb 19, 2014

Nevada isn’t setting a limit for now on the number of people who can be licensed to grow medical marijuana for sale at dispensaries authorized last year under state law.

Lethal drug cocktail blamed in death of former prosecutor

Tue, Feb 18, 2014

A lethal but accidental combination of prescription drugs is to blame for the death of a former prosecutor late last year, the Clark County Coroner’s Office has ruled.

State senator calls out Craigslist for prescription drug sales

Mon, Sep 23, 2013

Deaths from overdoses of prescription narcotics has "reached an epidemic," says state Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, who is urging a California company to curtail its online sale of the ...

Former drug prosecutor's death was from overdose, coroner's report says

Thu, Aug 8, 2013

Former Clark County deputy district attorney David Schubert’s death was ruled a suicide due to an overdose on a cocktail of medications, according to a Clark County Coroner’s Office report.

Marijuana dispensary bill must clear $2 million hurdle

Mon, Jun 10, 2013

State Sen. Tick Segerblom says he’s optimistic Gov. Brian Sandoval will sign his medical marijuana dispensary bill, even though it could cost Nevada some $2 million.

Bill establishing marijuana dispensaries breezes through Nevada Senate

Wed, May 29, 2013

A bill to allow medical marijuana dispensaries easily passed the Senate on Wednesday. Backers said the measure, approved 17-4, establishes procedures to comply with a constitutional amendment approved by the ...

Committee sends bill for medical marijuana clinics to Nevada Senate

Thu, May 23, 2013

A plan to create a network of medical marijuana clinics — with the owners paying hefty licensing fees — was approved by the Nevada Senate Finance Committee today.

Nevada Senate committee passes bill setting up marijuana dispensaries

Thu, Apr 11, 2013

A Senate committee has cleared a bill to permit a network of medical marijuana dispensaries, but those who sell the drug will have to pay a $20,000 licensing fee.

ACLU says Nevada law restricting sale of medical marijuana unconstitutional

Fri, Mar 22, 2013

The American Civil Liberties Union says Nevada’s medical marijuana law is unconstitutional because it restricts people from filling a legal prescription.

Oxycodone trafficker is sentenced to 15 years in federal prison

Thu, Jan 3, 2013

A Las Vegas man was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for trafficking prescription drugs between here and Alaska, Nevada’s U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden announced Thursday.

Metro: Prescription drug abuse leading to more heroin use — and deaths – in valley

Thu, Nov 15, 2012

The mirror told Jeff Thompson, then 18 years old, all he needed to know: He saw stick-like arms and exhausted eyes, a young body on a downward spiral. Consider it ...

County residents, with or without insurance, eligible for prescription drug discount cards

Mon, Aug 13, 2012

Using drug discount cards, people with insurance can get discounts on drugs their policies won’t cover, including so-called “social” prescriptions for medications such as Viagra and birth control pills.

Legislation aims to curb over-medicated odyssey many foster children face

Mon, Jun 18, 2012

Matthew Stewart Pitzer was 9 years old when his mother decided she could no longer care for him. Pitzer's drug-addicted mother left him at Montevista, a psychiatric and chemical dependency ...

Legislation aims to curb over-medicated odyssey many foster children face

Mon, Jun 18, 2012

A study of five states by the federal Government Accountability Office published in December found that foster children were prescribed psychotropic drugs at rates many times higher than other children ...


Dr. Buckwalter, In His Own Words
Dr. Buckwalter, In His Own Words
A Deposition of Dr. Buckwalter.
Prescriptions, Pain, and Profits
Prescriptions, Pain, and Profits
Highlights from the round table- Four experts in the fields of health and public safety ...
Pharmaceutical crisis round table (uncut)
Pharmaceutical crisis round table (uncut)
Four experts in the fields of health and public safety discuss the rise of prescription ...
Face to Face: Rx for Profit?
Face to Face: Rx for Profit?
The doctor convicted of murdering a patient by overprescribing pain killers was selling the drugs ...

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