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L.A. Now Live: Inside The Times' prescription deaths investigation

Times staff writers Scott Glover and Lisa Girion will join L.A. Now Live at 9 a.m. on Monday to discuss their story and database about prescription drug deaths.

The investigation found that prescription overdoses kill more people than heroin and cocaine.

A Los Angeles Times investigation has found that in nearly half of the accidental deaths from prescription drugs in four Southern California counties, the deceased had a doctor's prescription for at least one drug that caused or contributed to the death.

An examination of coroners' records found that:
  • In 1,762 of those cases — 47% — drugs for which the deceased had a prescription were the sole cause or a contributing cause of death.
  • A small cadre of doctors was associated with a disproportionate number of those fatal overdoses. Seventy-one — 0.1% of all practicing doctors in the four counties — wrote prescriptions for drugs that caused or contributed to 298 deaths. That is 17% of the total linked to doctors' prescriptions.
  • Each of those 71 physicians prescribed drugs to three or more patients who died.
  • Four of the doctors had 10 or more patients who fatally overdosed.
  • One doctor, Van H. Vu,  had the highest total: 16. Vu is a pain specialist in Huntington Beach.

 
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About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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