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More San Diegans Dying From Painkiller Abuse

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Aired 6/8/09

A growing number of San Diegans are dying from taking too many prescription painkillers. The county medical examiner says there's been a 30 percent increase in medication-related deaths over the last few years.

— A growing number of San Diegans are dying from taking too many prescription painkillers. The county medical examiner says there's been a 30 percent increase in medication-related deaths over the last few years.

There were 371 medication-related deaths in the county last year. Fifty-one of them were associated with the narcotic pain reliever oxycodone.

Dr. Jonathan Lucas is San Diego County's deputy medical examiner. He says most of the people who died from abusing the painkiller were in their 40s and 50s.

"However, oxycodone has an emerging population of 20-30 year olds," says Dr. Lucas. "And so these younger individuals are abusing oxycodone, and we're seeing deaths because of it."

Lucas says the vast majority of these deaths were accidental.

Countywide in 2008, most non-natural deaths were due to heart attacks.

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