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July 4, 2015

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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

Five targets for police fighting drug use in Clark County schools

Thu, Apr 19, 2012

As school police fight drug abuse among students, they’re tackling a handful of emerging drugs frequently popping up on high school campuses in Clark County.

‘Pharm parties,’ designer drugs among trends for high schoolers

Thu, Apr 19, 2012

Students’ tricks to conceal drugs have gotten more cunning as their choice of illicit vices continues to widen — trends that have school police reaching out to parents for help.

After recent local case, how often are Las Vegas kids found high on PCP and other illegal drugs?

Fri, Mar 9, 2012

Authorities’ shoulders sagged recently when they learned a Las Vegas 15-month-old tested positive for a hallucinogenic drug known on the streets as “angel dust” and “rocket fuel.”

15-month-old toddler tests positive for hallucinogenic drug

Wed, Feb 22, 2012

Metro Police are investigating a Tuesday night incident in which a 15-month-old child was taken to the hospital and tested positive for the drug PCP, authorities said.

Family of 6-year-old Las Vegas cancer patient relieved, for now, that drug scare is over

Mon, Feb 20, 2012

When 6-year-old Caleb LeBaron was diagnosed with a rare form of a highly aggressive cancer in December, doctors immediately swung into action.

Former customer: Indicted doctor was easy source of drugs for addicts

Fri, Nov 4, 2011

Not everyone was surprised by the indictment Thursday of Dr. Sebastian M. Paulin Jr. for selling prescription drugs to people who don’t need them. That’s because among painkiller addicts and ...

Henderson residents eligible for prescription discount card

Sat, Oct 29, 2011

Henderson residents who struggle to pay for prescription medication are now eligible to get some assistance through the city.

Doctor pleads guilty to selling painkiller prescriptions

Thu, Oct 27, 2011

A 74-year-old Las Vegas doctor has pleaded guilty to one count of selling prescriptions to powerful and highly addictive painkillers.

Henderson doctor sues parents of patient who overdosed

Sat, Aug 27, 2011

The dramatic rise in prescription narcotics use — and the subsequent increase in overdose deaths — has led to a spate of lawsuits across the country targeting doctors for malpractice ...

Bill requiring prescriptions for some over-the-counter medicines dies in Senate

Fri, Apr 15, 2011

A controversial bill to require new controls on some legal cold medicines being used in the production of methamphetamine has died in the state Senate.

Police offer place to drop off old prescription medications

Fri, Jan 28, 2011

Authorities have announced the launch of a “no-questions-asked” program allowing community members to dispose of prescription medications at all Metro Police substations.

Henderson doctor linked to 8 deaths says board bowed to political pressure

Mon, Jan 24, 2011

A Nevada doctor implicated by authorities in the deaths of eight patients is leveling new allegations against the State Board of Medical Examiners over its suspension of his authority to ...

DEA coordinates effort to collect old prescription drugs

Sat, Sep 25, 2010

Today is the valley’s first prescription drug “take-back day”, an initiative by the U.S. Department of Justice to collect expired and unused medicine.

Boulder City participating in discount prescription program

Sat, Jan 23, 2010

Boulder City residents will soon be eligible for an average 20 percent discount off the price of prescription drugs through a program sponsored by the National League of Cities and ...

Drug mix marketed to men prompts investigations

Tue, Dec 15, 2009

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration is one of three agencies investigating the manufacture and distribution of Vegas Mixx — a crudely marketed combination of Valium and Viagra that promised to ...


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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