HHS Secretary: 259 Million Opioid Prescriptions in U.S. in 2012 Outnumbered American Adults

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell told Congress Wednesday that there were more than 250 million prescriptions for opioid drugs in 2012 – more than the number of adults in the U.S.

“In the year 2012, there were 259 million prescriptions for opioids. That’s more than one for every adult in the country,” Burwell told the House Ways and Means Committee during a hearing about her department’s fiscal year 2016 budget request.

Burwell was responding to Rep. Richard Neal’s (D-Mass.) question regarding opioid addiction.

“The opioid addiction issue is pronounced now across my congressional district, and there are all sorts of stories now that indicate a nationwide trend, and curious about the response of your department, the agencies that you oversee and also to ask specifically about prescription drug misuse, the evidence that you’re coming across on that basis,” Neal said.