Las Vegas Sun

November 21, 2017

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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

House Republicans aim to yank tax credits for orphan drugs

Sat, Nov 4, 2017

As part of a sweeping tax reform bill, House Republicans on Thursday proposed eliminating billions of dollars in corporate tax credits that have played a key role in the booming ...

Age of anxiety: Prozac nation is now the United States of Ativan

Mon, Jun 19, 2017

As depression was to the 1990s — summoned forth by Kurt Cobain, “Listening to Prozac,” Seattle fog and Temple of the Dog dirges on MTV, viewed from under a flannel ...

Bill allows pharmacists to dispense opioid overdose antidotes without prescription

Thu, Jun 1, 2017

Sprinkle said reforms from the 2015 session opened up access to Narcan for first responders and some others. Family members and friends of drug users ...

Health district, humanitarian crusaders make the case for local needle exchanges

Mon, Apr 24, 2017

Deaths from opioid overdose have quadrupled since 1999. The CDC points to the dramatic rise in doctors prescribing oxycodone, fentanyl and methadone to treat pain — legal substances that can ...

Pouches aim to take leftover prescription drugs out of valley homes

Sat, Dec 3, 2016

A student narrating the presentation explained the simple chemistry of the process: The drug contents bind to charcoal inside the pouch and are deactivated ...

Advocates hope shaming drugmakers discourages price spikes

Mon, Jul 11, 2016

Frustrated by the rising cost of prescription drugs, California health advocates hope sunlight and a dose of shame will discourage drugmakers from raising their prices too quickly or introducing new ...

We have a prescription pill problem

Mon, Sep 28, 2015

Fourteen years sober from drugs, Lin Michaels was written two prescriptions for narcotic painkillers by her doctor: one for hydrocodone, another for methadone. She was in pain. It was the ...

Chasing the synthetic high: ‘Legal’ drugs are causing trouble for law enforcement

Mon, Jun 22, 2015

They come with names like Vanilla Sky, Cloud 9 and Ivory Wave — pale, flaky powders in packets decorated with bubbles or flowers and labeled for innocuous uses: potpourri, plant ...

Event offers chance to get rid of unwanted prescription meds

Tue, May 26, 2015

Are unwanted prescription medications cluttering your cabinets? A prescription pill turn-in event will be held from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at ...

Season to suffer: Here’s why your allergies are flaring up

Thu, Mar 19, 2015

Las Vegas allergy sufferers are in for a long week, as a high pollen forecast will continue to trigger the all-too-familiar symptoms of sneezing, runny nose, sore throat and watery ...

Is relief from Alzheimer’s disease on the horizon?

Wed, Nov 19, 2014

The Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health hopes to enroll 10 to 15 people with Alzheimer's disease in a study of a drug that could ...

Specialty pharmacy to create 350 permanent jobs in Las Vegas

Fri, Nov 7, 2014

Officials broke ground today on a $23 million pharmaceutical facility at UNLV’s Harry Reid Research and Technology Park. The planned two-story, 110,000-square-foot facility represents a bright spot in ...

Proposed regulations assert medical pot dispensaries linked to crime

Mon, Jun 2, 2014

Language in proposed regulations for medical marijuana businesses that links dispensaries to violent crimes and gang activity exaggerates...

Nevada lawmakers tell feds to butt out on medical marijuana

Fri, May 30, 2014

All four of Nevada's U.S. House members voted in favor of an amendment the House has passed blocking the federal government from interfering with states that permit the use of ...

Pot dispensaries come with big price tags, lots of rules

Wed, May 28, 2014

If the expense of opening a medical marijuana facility — dispensary, cultivation or production facility, or testing lab — doesn’t scare away investors, 28 pages of Las Vegas regulations might. ...


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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