There is no denying the nationwide epidemic of drug addiction taking place in the United States. More people are overdosing and dying from prescription narcotics.

While pain medications such as Oxycontin, Fentanyl, Percocet, etc. get most of the media attention, it’s actually the  anti-anxiety medication Xanax (and its multitudes of generic labels) that is the #2 most abused prescription medication in the Unites States.  Easy access is blamed for the sudden rise in abuse cases.  I explored the coverage and found a consistently disturbing trend.

There’s no single storyline or theme.

It’s countless small reports on theft, abuse, addiction and death spread across thousands of relatively small regional media sources.  They all point to a broader trend, but few tier 1 media sources have taken the lead in covering Xanax abuse.  The drug is HIGHLY addictive and is up to 20 times more potent than Valium.  And did I mention that it’s the number one prescribed psychiatric medication in the United States.

From a media perspective, Xanax lags opioid prescription medications, along with Botox, Viagra and the top HDL med, Crestor.  Xanax coverage is about abuse and addiction storylines.  The brand is off -5 points this month at a strong 58 rating, coming off a 4-year high in June of 63.  Xanax is ranked #8 in July with 48,665 mentions.

The analytic take-a-way is the clear accumulation of abuse storylines resulting media momentum build (blue bars in accompanying chart).  Segment strength is strong in traditional channels (i.e. newspapers, broadcast and Twitter).  Search volume metrics are also quite strong at 88.

Xanax media coverage follows the broader heroin/opioid abuse story volumes.  The overarching stories of prescription drug abuse are running higher media volumes than the related drug brands themselves.  The prescription drug epidemic topic is down -2 points at a strong 78 rating.  The storylines is especially strong in North America publications, i.e. 96 in major US newspapers and 97 in North American regional publications.