The epidemic of deaths and addiction attributable to opioid painkillers continues unabated even as an authoritative new review of scientific studies has found no solid evidence that opioids are effective in relieving long-term chronic pain.

The latest report from the National Center for Health Statistics on the use of prescription opioid painkillers among adults, issued last week, showed that usage of opioids more than doubled between the 1988-94 period and the 2011-12 period. The percentage of adults age 20 and over who use prescription opioids has leveled off in recent years but that is of little comfort given the size of the epidemic. From 1999 to 2012, opioid-related deaths more than tripled.

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