In response to the epidemic of opiate addiction, Purdue Phrama LP the maker of Oxycontin, has developed a new version of the powerful painkiller that’s “harder to abuse.” According to an AP article, the government will soon be examining this new incarnation of the drug and evaluating the manufacturer’s lofty claims. How could this drug be made “abuse-resistant?” Details, inside…
Oxycontin, essentially a synthetic opiate, was developed in 1996 and hailed as a breakthrough in painkillers. It was designed to be swallowed and digested over a period of 12 hours in order to keep a steady flow of medication available to pain sufferers. It wasn’t long before abusers discovered they could achieve a heroin-like high if the pills were crushed and snorted or prepared into an injectable solution.
The DEA found that the deaths from this class of drugs quintupled by 2001. Amidst the growing number of lawsuits and pressure by the FDA, Purdue Pharma developed an abuse-resistant version of the drug. The company has developed a plastic-like coating that is fused to the tablet making it difficult to crush. The coating is also designed to transform the pill into a “gelatinous mess” if the user tries to prepare it for injection. Purdue Pharma says the new pill dissolves just as effectively as the current pill when used properly.
From what we know about drug addicts, they are very resourceful when it comes to getting their drug. Dr. Bob Rappaport of the FDA wrote, “There is no perfect formulation that can resist all forms of tampering.” We are inclined to agree, Dr. Bob. While this new version may be a step in the right direction, we remain doubtful of its actual efficacy. However, there may be some very neat, white-linen wearing drug addicts who will be put off by a “gelatinous mess.” Who knows?