Does Oxycontin do more harm than good?

More people die from opioid overdoses than from car accidents. There is a huge black market for the stuff, and drug dealers have a tendency to shoot people who get in their way. Pharmacy robberies happen every few days, and are almost always for Oxycontin, or something similar. Between overdoses and drug related shootings, thousands die every year in the USA. Is it really worth it to reduce someone’s pain if it means the pharmacist dispensing the medication gets shot to death?

I’m not sure this is a valid statistic to go by, even if it is accurate.

Problem: Oxycontin, even though its sale and use is tightly controlled, is widely abused. People are willing to commit serious crimes to obtain it.

Solution: Let’s make Oxycontin illegal! Production will move to Mexico and be taken over by existing drug barons, distribution will be taken over completely by small-time pushers, current manufacturers will lose money, the addicts will continue to abuse it, and people with severe pain will just have to suffer.

Problem: Oxycontin, even though its sale and use is tightly controlled, is widely abused. People are willing to commit serious crimes to obtain it.

Solution: Let’s make Oxycontin legal and OTC! Existing producers will make more money and will be proving a drug with a known potency and purity, drug pushers will lose money, drug barons will lose market share, and people with severe pain will get relief cheaper and more easily. And addicts will continue to abuse it.

Which solution sounds better?

They actually just recently changed the formulation of Oxycontin to make it uncrushable.
A little background. Oxycontin is a time release drug. So an 80mg Oxycontin is 80mg of oxycondone released over 12 hours. On the other hand, Percocet (just regular Percocet) is 5mg of oxycodone released immediately.
What people do is take these Oxycontins and crush them to get rid of their time release mechanism and get the high of all 30mgs (or whatever the dosage is) at once by whatever method of ingestion they want (shooting, snorting, swallowing. It’s like taking 6 percocets at the same time (with no APAP).

As I said before, they recently made them uncrushable. Like, you can smash them with a hammer and they just flatten out, even attempt to snort them, they turn to gum in your nose. The ability to abuse these pills has gone way downhill. The only value they have left now is that there’s so much oxycodone in them. But you have to take lots of them to get the buzz (so there’s more releasing at the same time).

Having said that, with this new formulation and some new drug laws out, I think the shift is going to move to Percocet and possibly Vicodin.
FTR, I read an article similar to this a while ago. I was familiar with Oxycontin and that people crush it, I hadn’t heard that they changed the formulation until about 2 months ago.

How exactly was this new “uncrushable” formulation achieved? How did they do it?

I couldn’t tell you, but I can tell you that I couldn’t crush it. When I got some very low dose oxys (10mg) for my surgery I stuck one in my pill crusher to see what would happen. I stopped when I was worried it was just going to get pushed out the bottom. My pill crusher has never had a problem crushing pills (I do this because I used to have a lot of problems swallowing larger pills)…this pill had nothing but a little scuff mark on it.

It’s not ‘uncrushable’ it’s uncrushable. If you do some googling you’ll see that people on drug abuse boards don’t even like it any more.

But to bring this back around, I wonder if when they changed the formulation if they should have changed the name of it. As long as it’s still called Oxycontin or Roxy, people are still going to go looking for it. They could have called it something else (____cet XR). It probably would have gone unnoticed for a little while, then as it tricked on to the black market people would have found this new drug wasn’t the same as the old one and gone back to percocet/vicodin. Same problem, different drug. But we would have ‘solved’ the Oxycontin problem.

You know that stuff they make black boxes out of?

Definitely sounds like something that should be ingested.

From the CDC…

Of the 22,114 deaths relating to pharmaceutical overdose in 2012, 16,007 (72%) involved opioid analgesics (also called opioid pain relievers or prescription painkillers), and 6,524 (30%) involved benzodiazepines.6 (Some deaths include more than one type of drug.)

Opoid addicts are increasingly using heroin instead of pharma drugs like oxy’s. Heroin’s everywhere these days, even in little towns.

Just so long as they don’t start using krokodil…

I doubt we’d see much illegal synthesis, and not in Mexico. There just isn’t much thebaine to go around. Easier to make heroine.

waitaminute…they make black boxes out of oxycontins…no wonder people want them to make the whole plane out of that.

Cheech and Chong did it first though with that van.

No, that was cannabis. They quit making black boxes out of that stuff in 1983, after a fire on a Delta flight. The pilot and copilot stopped halfway through the emergency checklist to raid the snack cart.

Probably a good idea, I heard that stuff is flammable and doesn’t hold up too well in water.

I strongly suspect that drug addicts and traffickers keep themselves very well informed about this kind of things, and I doubt they’ll be fooled.


(kind of)

I think you’d be surprised. These aren’t high level operations, these are strung out addicts robbing pharmacies or doctor shopping with “back pain”.

Besides, part of the idea of changing the name is to keep the general public happy. As of right now the new formulation is much harder to abuse but the unwashed masses have no idea anything changed. However, if they gave it a new name and discontinued the old one they could put out a statement saying that Oxycontin has been discontinued.
Of course, if Oxycontin is generic (and I assume it is), it would probably require changes in the law to discontinue rather than one company pulling it.

Anyways, all I was saying is that by doing this, it keeps people happy because they think something is being done, and it seems that things are being done. Like I said earlier, google ‘uncrushable oxycontin’ and you’ll see pages upon pages upon pages of drug addicts totally stumped about what to do here. They can’t snort it, they can’t shoot it, they’re trying to melt it, microwave it, cook it in acid, they’re at a loss. Whatever Purdue added to it, is working.

Probably instant grits. :smiley:


The new formulation (The OP’s) came out back when I was in pharmacy school, over 4 years ago. I wouldn’t call that “recently”

Changing the name doesn’t matter, the people we worry about know about the changes pretty quick. I remember when the change over happened back when I was an intern, we would get people calling and asking if we had any of the “OC’s” in stock. The current anti-abuse version of Oxycontin works, it isn’t a popular street drug any more.

Currently, the main street drug of choice is plain Oxycodone 30mg, (or Roxicodone). Which is an immediate release version with 30mg of oxycodone per a tablet. Last I heard the going street price was about $40 a tablet. However, I don’t get any forgeries for it, most of the people go to “pill mill” doctors who will write a script for Oxycodone #120 Take 1 by mouth four times a day. Honestly, I don’t see nearly as many forgeries as I used too. Back when I was a tech, we saw forgeries pretty common, but now, that prescription have to be on security paper, and it is easier to just pay a pill mill doctor $400 to write whatever you want, the amount of forgeries have gone way down. In my past 4 years as a pharmacist, I’ve gotten 2 people arrested for forgeries (both for promethazine with codeine), and have seen forgeries for Hydrocodone/APAP 10/325, and Tramadol. Now that Hydrocodone is a schedule II controlled, and Tramadol is schedule IV, I expect both of those to go down.