Sky-High Prices for Prescription Opioids Sold on Street

    Prices for prescription painkillers sold illegally are sky-high, according to data from federal law enforcement agencies. These prices are creating a fast-growing street market for prescription painkillers.

    For example, the street price for brand-name OxyContin is $50 to $80 per pill, while generic oxycodone sells for $12 to $40 per pill. In a pharmacy, both pills sell for around $6, CNN reports.

    Prescription drugs have passed marijuana as the most common gateway drug for first-time drug abuse, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Seven million Americans abused prescription pain and anxiety drugs in 2009—a 13 percent increase from the prior year, according to the DEA, which expects another double-digit rise for 2010.

    Sergeant Stephen Opferman of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department told CNN that the most worrisome trend he sees is the rise in young teens who are abusing prescription drugs. “The kids think these drugs must be safer than heroin because their parents take them,” he said. “They hold what they call ‘skittles parties’ where they try out sleeping pills, anti-anxiety pills and pain medicine.”