Opioid painkillers are powerful prescription medications used to manage severe and chronic pain. Despite the intended benefits of these drugs—including providing relief to individuals who are injured or recovering from surgery—opioid painkillers are highly addictive and can cause life-threatening health problems such as opioid dependence and overdose. Tracking prescription opioid sales can help identify which geographic areas and demographic populations are at increased risk of opioid-related health problems and potential overdose deaths, and can inform policy initiatives aimed at combating the opioid epidemic in the United States.
State Health Compare provides annual, state-level rates of prescription opioid painkiller sales beginning in the year 2000. These rates can be broken down by two of the most commonly prescribed types of opioids: hydrocodone and oxycodone (also known by the brand names “Vicodin” and “Oxycontin,” respectively) and are drawn from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's Automated Reports and Consolidated Ordering System (ARCOS) Retail Drug Summary Reports.