The painkiller debate is raging again, and soon the issue should reach critical mass and come to some resolution.

KTRH has reported before about the dangers of medications like OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin.  Opioid-based painkillers can be highly addictive and can kill.  They kill 17,000 Americans every year, and the numbers just keep going up.

“It’s kind of shocking and eye-opening to think every day how many people are dying.  46 people every day dying from an opioid.  This is legal use of this drug.  We’re not talking cocaine, we’re talking prescription medication,” says Doris Peter, Director of the Consumer Reports Health Rating Center.

In the current issue of Consumer Reports the magazine takes a strong stand advocating for the FDA to do more to make painkillers safer by reconsidering their approval of long-acting opioid Zohydro ER.   Consumer Reports also advises the FDA to establish consistent standards for acetaminophen by limiting daily doses, and lowering pill maximums for OTC products, as it has for prescriptions.

Doris Peter says also in their request to the FDA is a plea to raise the standards of proving the efficacy of a drug.  Painkillers aren’t always effective.

“While it does help some people there’s not that much evidence that for chronic, long-term pain long-term use actually works that well,” Peter says.

Yet the number of prescriptions written for Vicodin and other medications containing hydrocodone has jumped 300% over the past 10 years, and the number of deaths is up 400% since 1999