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Pain drug can kill when taken as prescribed

Scott Finn and Tara Tuckwiller of The Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette analyzed death certificates and found that "patients could die if they take the "usual adult dosage" on methadone's package insert — information that comes with the prescription and was approved by the federal government." Methadone, once given mostly to heroin addicts to ease their cravings, now is prescribed by more doctors to treat pain. It contributed to 2,992 deaths nationwide in 2003, up from 790 four years earlier. Despite knowing about methadone's dangers, federal officials have not strengthened the warnings most doctors and patients receive about methadone. The series includes information about how they reported the story.

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