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Thursday, July 12, 2012

OxyContinOP Abuse Resistant Design May Have Unintended Consequences

It is now two years since OxyContin OP was approved for sale in the United States. This new formula was to prevent misuse and abuse of the tablets, by making it difficult to crush the pills for snorting or injecting. Addiction is a baffling disease, insofar as removal of the drug of choice does not stop the addiction or cure the addict.

Jamaican ginger extract at the Museum of the A...
Jamaican ginger extract at the Museum of the American Cocktail. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Consider prohibition: people didn't stop drinking; they simply changed where they drank (location) and what they drank. Often times the substitutes for brand named alcoholic beverages - bootlegged, moonshine was more dangerous for the alcoholic. Consider those who turned to rubbing alcohol or items like "Jake" (Jamaican Ginger). Opioid addicts similarly will looked for a replacement drug for OxyContin, in March 2012 we wrote about Opana (now being redesigned by the manufacturer).

This week the New England Journal of Medicine published a new study conducted by the Washington University in St. Louis. The lead author is Theodore Cicero, professor of psychiatry.  This study showed that the redesigned painkiller may be prompting addicts to turn to heroin. According to the ABC NEWS report:
"The study of more than 2,500 people with opioid dependence found a 17 percent drop in OxyContin abuse with the 2010 arrival of a formula that's harder to inhale or inject. During the same time period, heroin abuse doubled."
"Unlike its predecessor, the abuse-deterring version of OxyContin turns to gel when crushed, making it harder for people to snort or inject for a rapid high. But nearly a quarter of study participants found a way around the formulation tweak, and 66 percent said they switched to another opioid – usually heroin."
Like prohibition, when the opioid addict has trouble getting the expensive legal drug, they turn to an illegal street drug (heroin) which is cheaper, but not pure and overdoses become common.

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