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N.J. opiate epidemic driven by network of corruption: report

gunAn investigation into prescription pill and heroin abuse in New Jersey has revealed the operation of illicit medical practices run by unscrupulous entrepreneurs and corrupt physicians, some with ties to organized crime.

The report by the state’s Commission of Investigation found that the painkiller and heroin abuse epidemic has taken an unprecedented hold in the suburbs that is far more serious than the heroin crisis of the 1960s and ’70s. According to the commission, a network of corrupt doctors — some feeding Russian organized crime by bilking Medicaid and Medicare — has created a proliferation of painkillers and heroin, with open-air drug markets in cities and at malls in affluent communities. For example, in the span of 19 months in 2010 and 2011, one local pharmacy had 3,100 prescriptions for pills, nearly all with various quantities of oxycodone, the report found.

In 2011, there were 1,008 drug deaths in New Jersey — a 20% increase over 2010, and nearly half were people 25 or younger, according to this article. Of those, 337 involved oxycodone, and 368 involved heroin mixed with other illicit drugs, the article says.

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