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April 18, 2014

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Painful Painkillers

Prescription drugs confiscated by the coroner's office in the past six weeks are displayed at the coroner's offices  Wednesday.

Photo by Tiffany Brown / Las Vegas Sun

Prescription drugs confiscated by the coroner's office in the past six weeks are displayed at the coroner's offices Wednesday.

A Sun investigation reveals a confounding crisis — Nevadans consume about twice the national average per capita of prescription narcotics.

Painkillers play a vital role in medicine, but experts struggle to explain why so many are consumed in Nevada.

Theories abound — the black market is thriving, tourists drive up the numbers and hurried doctors may too quickly write prescriptions.

One thing is sure: As the rate of painkiller use climbs, so too does abuse. And Clark County's overdose deaths from prescription narcotics now outnumber those from street drugs.

How we did it: Tracking Nevadans' Appetite for Painkillers

Archive highlights

When drugs bring harm not healing

Wed, Oct 15, 2008

Two days before their first wedding anniversary, Andrea Duncan woke up to find her husband, Clint, beside her, dead of a prescription drug overdose. Instead of celebrating their marriage, she ...

Her outlook darkened as her addiction deepened, journal details

Wed, Oct 15, 2008

Staci Voyda’s journal is a stark look into prescription narcotic addiction.

Patient's husband remembers her wry humor, last pain-filled weeks

Wed, Oct 15, 2008

Barbara Baile’s death was both agonizing and avoidable, leaving her husband of 50 years painfully lonely.

The painful truth about Nevada

Sun, Jul 6, 2008

The New Addiction: Part 1: Nevadans consume about twice the national average of several prescription painkillers, making us among the most narcotic-addled populations in the United States, a Sun analysis ...

All stories

Henderson doctor linked to 8 deaths says board bowed to political pressure

Mon, Jan 24, 2011

A Nevada doctor implicated by authorities in the deaths of eight patients is leveling new allegations against the State Board of Medical Examiners over its suspension of his authority to ...

DEA coordinates effort to collect old prescription drugs

Sat, Sep 25, 2010

Today is the valley’s first prescription drug “take-back day”, an initiative by the U.S. Department of Justice to collect expired and unused medicine.

Boulder City participating in discount prescription program

Sat, Jan 23, 2010

Boulder City residents will soon be eligible for an average 20 percent discount off the price of prescription drugs through a program sponsored by the National League of Cities and ...

Drug mix marketed to men prompts investigations

Tue, Dec 15, 2009

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration is one of three agencies investigating the manufacture and distribution of Vegas Mixx — a crudely marketed combination of Valium and Viagra that promised to ...

Murder case against doctor may be revived

Wed, Dec 9, 2009

Defense attorneys are arguing that a long-standing practice of the county coroner’s office provides the reason to overturn the second-degree murder conviction of Las Vegas doctor Harriston Bass Jr. On ...

Wonder drug for men no success story

Sun, Nov 29, 2009

Pharmacist Scot Silber thought he was sitting on a gold mine when he developed a drug compound to help men suffering from sexual dysfunction. Silber, part-owner of Green Valley Drugs, ...

Medical board rejects deal for doctor accused of malpractice

Sat, Nov 7, 2009

The Nevada Board of Medical Examiners rejected Friday a proposed settlement with a Henderson physician linked by authorities to the deaths of eight patients after prescribing them narcotic painkillers. The ...

Widows: Doctor prescribed narcotics that led to addictions, deaths

Wed, Oct 14, 2009

In the last year of his life, Robert Reynolds was prescribed narcotics by two local physicians who were supposed to be collaborating to improve his condition. Reynolds’ family physician, Dr. ...

DUI campaign shifts focus amid changing trends

Mon, Aug 24, 2009

In the 30 years since the fight against driving under the influence of alcohol began, a lot has changed and the number of drunken drivers has decreased. But some new ...

Federal drug czar makes stop in Las Vegas

Wed, Aug 19, 2009

The federal drug czar visited Las Vegas on Wednesday in an effort to raise awareness about drugged driving. Gil Kerlikowske, the director of the White House Office of National Drug ...

Danny Gans report raises questions from pain specialists

Thu, Jun 11, 2009

The explanation for what killed Danny Gans raises more questions than it answers, medical experts said Wednesday, opening the door to speculation about the entertainer with a squeaky-clean image. The ...

Medical marijuana advocates rally for drug's expansion

Sat, May 9, 2009

About a dozen advocates for medical marijuana rallied Saturday outside the Regional Justice Center -- a symbolic location because the issue is medical and not criminal, said organizer Beth Soloe, ...

Doctor sued by families of 3 dead patients

Tue, Apr 28, 2009

A Henderson physician who was linked by medical authorities to the deaths of eight patients after prescribing them narcotic painkillers has been sued by the families of three patients who ...

FDA approves drug tested at Nevada Cancer Institute

Thu, Apr 9, 2009

A new cancer drug studied in clinical trials by a Nevada Cancer Institute doctor has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The Nevada Cancer Institute was one ...

Doctor linked to 8 overdose fatalities

Fri, Dec 19, 2008

The Drug Enforcement Administration on Thursday stripped Dr. Kevin Buckwalter of his ability to prescribe controlled substances, alleging that at least eight of his patients since 2005 have died of ...


Dr. Buckwalter, In His Own Words
Dr. Buckwalter, In His Own Words
A Deposition of Dr. Buckwalter.
Prescriptions, Pain, and Profits
Prescriptions, Pain, and Profits
Highlights from the round table- Four experts in the fields of health and public safety ...
Pharmaceutical crisis round table (uncut)
Pharmaceutical crisis round table (uncut)
Four experts in the fields of health and public safety discuss the rise of prescription ...
Face to Face: Rx for Profit?
Face to Face: Rx for Profit?
The doctor convicted of murdering a patient by overprescribing pain killers was selling the drugs ...

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