Though banning less expensive, generic Oxycontin may seem like a “win” in the fight against drug addiction, there is much debate as to the side effects yet to be seen.
Critics of the FDA’s decision to ban generic forms of Oxycontin argue that it may ultimately promote the use of less effective substances without eliminating addiction risks. Oxycontin went off patent this past April.
In most cases, the end of a drug patent will usher in an era of generics. Following the FDA’s decision, drug-makers must now work to create abuse-resistant versions of the substance in order to compete in the market.
The number of deaths associated with prescription opiates more than tripled from ’99 to ’06. In 1997, Purdue Pharma LP – the maker of Oxycontin - pleaded guilty to federal charges of misbranding the substance as a less addictive and safer alternative to narcotic drugs such as Percocet and Vicodin. By 2010, Pharma had developed an abuse-resistant version of the drug to help diminish the risk of overdose and death.
The new “abuse-resistant” Oxy includes an ingredient that makes it difficult to crush and inject or snort to achieve the desired effect - one similar to that found in heroin use.
But just because a drug is “abuse-deterrent” doesn't make it harmless…
In fact, nearly one third of users polled say they've figured out how to beat the system. Those who have not, still stand the risk of procuring or maintaining an addiction by swallowing the pills to excess.
Moral of the story: Where there’s a pill, there’s a way.
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