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The number of senior citizens getting narcotic painkillers and anti-anxiety medications under Medicare’s prescription drug program is climbing sharply, and those older patients are being put on the drugs for longer periods of time. From 2007-2012, the number of patients 65 and older getting Medicare prescriptions for powerful opioid pain medications rose more than 30% to upward of 8.5 million beneficiaries, the data show. Use of some of the most commonly abused painkillers, such as hydrocodone and oxycodone, climbed more than 50%. And the supply of each narcotic provided to the average recipient grew about 15% to about three months.



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