Prescription medicine abuse is the scourge the the nation and pills, like these Oxycontin tablet computers seized in Los Angeles, space scoring large bucks top top the street.

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NEW YORK ( -- Prescription drug abuse, currently the fastest-growing drug difficulty in the country, has created a ballooning street sector for highly-addictive pains relief, anxiety and depression drugs.

Given the involved, it"s no wonder.

Here"s a sampling of the street prices for a single tablet that some frequently trafficked drugs, contrasted to their sleeve prices:

--Oxycontin: $50 come $80 ~ above the street, vs. $6 once sold legally

--Oxycodone: $12 come $40 on the street, vs. $6 retail

--Hydrocodone: $5 to $20 vs. $1.50

--Percocet: $10 to $15 vs. $6

--Vicodin: $5 come $25 vs. $1.50

Those street prices were gleaned from the recent data placed out by federal law enforcement agencies, and the retail prices were from

Your family"s health treatment costs

As is usual in illegal medicine sales, demand is driving the business.

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Prescription drug abuse is spreading nationwide, however it is particularly rampant in cities prefer Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago and new York, federal officials say.

For decades, Marijuana was the gateway drug for first-time drug abusers in the unified States. But two years ago, prescription drugs won that dubious distinction, according to Rusty Payne, a spokesman for the medicine Enforcement Administration.

"It"s a far-ranging shift in trend," Payne said.

In 2009, there were 7 million americans abusing prescription pain and also anxiety drugs, up 13% from the former year, follow to the many recent data indigenous DEA. The agency expects 2010 number to show another double-digit increase.

And there"s big in it because that criminals. The smuggling in prescription medicine is close to coming to be a billion-dollar industry, industry experts say.

In Los Angeles, 80mg Oxycontin is the most popular drug on the street with addicts. A single pill can fetch $80 or more, said Sergeant Stephen Opferman the the Los Angeles county Sheriff"s Department.

"We room rounding up so much prescription off the street," Opferman said.

Prescription drugs leak out onto the street in a number of ways.

In some cases, thef steal legitimate shipments. Or doctors write false prescriptions that dealers fill and then offer the contraband.

Medicare fraud is one more route, according to Opferman, who has been battling illegal drug sales for much more than 11 years.

Traffickers recruitment Medicare beneficiaries who are willing to sell their monthly drug supplies for cash, Opferman said. The illegal activity costs Medicare billions the dollars a year, according to estimates from the commonwealth Centers because that Medicare & medicaid Services.

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But the many troubling trend amongst drug abusers in Los Angeles, Opferman said, is the growing number of young teenagers abuse prescription drugs.

"The kids think this drugs should be more secure than heroin because their parents take them," that said. "They hold what they call "skittles parties" where they shot out sleeping pills, anti-anxiety pills and pain medicine."