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

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NEW YORK ( -- Prescription medicine abuse, currently the fastest-growing drug trouble in the country, has developed a ballooning street market for highly-addictive pain relief, anxiety and also depression drugs.

Given the involved, it"s no wonder.

Here"s a sampling the the street prices because that a single tablet that some frequently trafficked drugs, contrasted to their retail prices:

--Oxycontin: $50 to $80 ~ above the street, vs. $6 as soon as sold legally

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

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

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

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

Those street prices were gleaned native the recent data put out by federal legislation enforcement agencies, and the sleeve prices were from

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As is usual in illegal medicine sales, demand is control the business.

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Prescription drug abuse is spreading nationwide, however it is specifically rampant in cities prefer 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. However two year ago, prescription medicine won the dubious distinction, according to Rusty Payne, a spokesman for the medicine Enforcement Administration.

"It"s a significant shift in trend," Payne said.

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

And there"s large in it for criminals. The trafficking in prescription drugs is close to coming to be a billion-dollar industry, industry experts say.

In Los Angeles, 80mg Oxycontin is the most well-known drug ~ above the street through addicts. A single pill have the right to fetch $80 or more, claimed Sergeant Stephen Opferman the the Los Angeles county Sheriff"s Department.

"We are rounding up so lot prescription turn off the street," Opferman said.

Prescription medicine leak out onto the street in a number of ways.

In part cases, theif steal legitimate shipments. Or medical professionals write false prescriptions that dealers fill and then sell the contraband.

Medicare fraud is one more route, follow to Opferman, who has actually been battling illegal medicine sales for an ext than 11 years.

Traffickers recruitment Medicare beneficiaries who room willing to sell their monthly drug offers for cash, Opferman said. The illegal task costs Medicare billions that dollars a year, according to estimates from the commonwealth Centers because that 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 safer than heroin since their parents take it them," the said. "They host what they call "skittles parties" where they try out sleeping pills, anti-anxiety pills and also pain medicine."