Recently, the Houston Chronicle published an article indicating that the Unites States consumes over 70% of the world's legal medicinal supply of opiates. The Houston Chronicle cites to an analysis of the Congressional Record and international treaty data in reaching these figures. Given that opiates are powerful, poppy-based pain medications, and closely related to heroin, these statistics are shocking. Toxicologists and chemists fear that the nation's over-prescription problem is creating a "Generation Rx." Even more shocking and alarming are the increasing number of prescription drug overdose deaths across the country.
On January 18, 2011, jurors in Harris County sent a message to health care providers when they awarded $10.1 million in damages to the family of an overdose victim, Michael Skorpenske. According to jurors interviewed following the verdict, this was a clear message to "pill mills" that have turned Houston into a center for prescription drug abuse. "Our verdict shows how much our community is against these pill mills and wants things to change," according to juror Lauren Simmons. Tim Bammel, another juror in the case, stated that the verdict "should discourage others who might be improperly churning out the addictive drugs that killed Skorpenske."