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(From McClatchy-Tribune Regional News - The Charleston Gazette, W.Va)
Byline: Paul J. Nyden
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va, chaired a Senate hearing Thursday morning to examine growing prescription drug abuse in West Virginia and across the country.
The Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health Prescription Drug Abuse hearing focused on how the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs are working to counter the problem.
The federal Centers for Disease Control recently called the problem an "epidemic." Overdoses from prescription drugs have become one of the leading causes of accidental death throughout the country.
"Prescription drug abuse is what happens when prescription drugs are used for non-medical purposes," Rockefeller said. "Opioid painkillers, anti-psychotics or stimulants are most commonly used."
Between 2001 and 2008, Rockefeller said, the death rate …