Purdue Pharma has privately identified about 1,800 doctors who may have recklessly prescribed the painkiller to addicts and dealers, yet it has done little to alert authorities.
In response to a Times report, state Sen. Curren D. Price Jr. (D-Los Angeles) wants coroners to report all such deaths to the state medical board.
Prescription overdoses kill more people than heroin and cocaine. An L.A. Times review of coroners' records finds that drugs prescribed by a small number of doctors caused or contributed to a disproportionate number of deaths.
Three doctors with clean records but multiple patient deaths say they know the risks of prescribing painkillers and follow recommended safeguards. They say some patients ignore warnings or feign illness to get narcotics.
Prosecutors considered it blind chance that a Southern California physician's prolific prescriptions hadn't led to deaths. But, in fact, fatal overdoses have occurred among those who got his pills.
Fueling the surge are prescription pain and anxiety drugs that are potent, highly addictive and especially dangerous when combined with one another or with other drugs or alcohol.