Deaths from painkiller overdose triple in decade

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NEW YORK (AP) -- A new government report shows the number of overdose deaths from powerful painkillers have more than tripled over a decade.

Prescription painkillers such as OxyContin, Vicodin and methadone contributed to the deaths of nearly 15,000 people in 2008. That's more than three times the 4,000 deaths in 1999.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 5 percent of Americans ages 12 and older say they've abused prescription painkillers. The highest rate of abuse was reported in Oklahoma while the lowest was in Nebraska and Iowa.

Fatal overdoses were more likely in men and middle-aged adults.

The report was released Tuesday by the CDC.

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Online:

CDC report: http://cdc.gov/mmwr/