Prescription medicine abuse is the scourge that the country and pills, choose these Oxycontin tablets seized in Los Angeles, space scoring big bucks ~ above the street.

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NEW YORK ( -- Prescription medicine abuse, now the fastest-growing drug difficulty in the country, has developed a ballooning street sector for highly-addictive pains relief, anxiety and also depression drugs.

Given the involved, it"s no wonder.

Here"s a sampling that the street prices for a solitary tablet of some frequently trafficked drugs, contrasted to their sleeve prices:

--Oxycontin: $50 come $80 ~ above the street, vs. $6 once sold legally

--Oxycodone: $12 to $40 top top the street, vs. $6 retail

--Hydrocodone: $5 come $20 vs. $1.50

--Percocet: $10 come $15 vs. $6

--Vicodin: $5 to $25 vs. $1.50

Those street prices to be gleaned native the recent data put out by federal regulation enforcement agencies, and the retail prices were from

Your family"s health care costs

As is usual in illegal medicine sales, need is driving the business.

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Prescription drug abuse is spreading nationwide, yet it is an especially rampant in cities favor Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago and new York, federal officials say.

For decades, Marijuana to be the gateway drug for first-time drug abusers in the joined States. Yet two year ago, prescription drugs won the dubious distinction, follow to Rusty Payne, a spokesman for the medicine Enforcement Administration.

"It"s a far-reaching shift in trend," Payne said.

In 2009, over there were 7 million americans abusing prescription pain and anxiety drugs, up 13% indigenous the front year, according to the many recent data indigenous DEA. The company expects 2010 number to show one more double-digit increase.

And there"s huge in it because that criminals. The smuggling in prescription medicine is close to ending up being a billion-dollar industry, industry experts say.

In Los Angeles, 80mg Oxycontin is the most famous drug ~ above the street through addicts. A single pill can fetch $80 or more, said Sergeant Stephen Opferman the the Los Angeles county Sheriff"s Department.

"We are rounding increase so much prescription turn off the street," Opferman said.

Prescription drugs leak the end onto the street in a variety of ways.

In some cases, theif steal legitimate shipments. Or doctors write false prescriptions that dealers fill and then offer the contraband.

Medicare fraud is another route, according to Opferman, who has been battling illegal medicine sales for more than 11 years.

Traffickers recruit Medicare beneficiaries who space willing to market their monthly drug gives for cash, Opferman said. The illegal activity costs Medicare billions of dollars a year, follow to estimates from the commonwealth Centers for Medicare & medicaid Services.

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But the most troubling trend among drug abusers in Los Angeles, Opferman said, is the growing variety of young teenagers abuse prescription drugs.

"The youngsters think these drugs should be more secure than heroin due to the fact that their parents take them," the said. "They hold what they speak to "skittles parties" whereby they shot out resting pills, anti-anxiety pills and also pain medicine."