CDC finds that the heroin substitute kills more than OxyContin.
Using national data from 1999-2010 and data from 13 states for the year 2009, CDC found that "while methadone accounts for only 2 percent of painkiller prescriptions in the United States, it is now involved in more than 30 percent of all prescription painkiller deaths."
We thought OxyContin was more of a danger, because its recreational use as "hillbilly heroin" is well-known, whereas methadone is best known as a rehabilitation treatment for junkies, not as a "fun" drug. But CDC notes the problems with methadone: e.g., it builds up quickly in the body, it's easy to take too much, etc.
New users are especially susceptible: "Four in ten overdose deaths involving single prescription painkillers involved methadone, twice as many as any other prescription painkiller," says CDC.
The agency has a lot of recommendations; providers are advised to be careful about methadone to drug abusers (which, considering what it's used for, is probably a lost cause) and patients will mental health issues. Also, make them come back for refills, and watch out for problems with heart rhythm -- methadone can mess with those.