New York City is restricting the use of prescription painkillers in the emergency rooms of the city’s public hospitals. Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the decision on Thursday, saying the city was working to halt a prescription drug abuse epidemic. The new regulations will allow only three days’ worth of narcotic painkillers like Vicodin and Percocet. The city will no longer allow the dispensing of long-acting painkillers like OxyContin and methadone.
Officials hope that the new regulations will make doctors more comfortable denying prescription painkillers if they feel a patient is abusing the medication. Drugs would still be available for cancer pain, and patients can obtain painkillers outside emergency rooms.
Painkiller overdose deaths in New York City have risen 30 percent since 2005, and 173 people were killed by accidental overdose deaths in 2010. Doctors in New York City write over 2 million prescriptions for opioid painkillers each years (a quarter of the city’s population), and Mayor Bloomberg said that over 250,000 New Yorkers are abusing prescription painkillers.
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