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The controversy surrounding OxyContin abuse: issues and solutions

Authors Sujata S Jayawant, Rajesh Balkrishnan

Published 15 July 2005 Volume 2005:1(2) Pages 77—82

Sujata S Jayawant1, Rajesh Balkrishnan2

1University of Houston, Department of Clinical Sciences and Administration, Houston, TX, USA; 2Ohio State University College of Pharmacy and School of Public Health, Columbus, OH, USA

Absract: This paper overviews the controversies surrounding the abuse of prescription analgesic OxyContin® (oxycodone hydrochloride; Purdue Pharma, Stamford, CT, USA). It discusses solutions to this medication-related issue, which has been touted as reaching epidemic proportions. Relevant literature from 1990 to 2004 was identified through a MEDLINE search, and a thorough internet-based search was conducted to obtain the latest updates and government reports. OxyContin became popular as a street drug through its ability to induce a quick heroinlike euphoria. The media hype surrounding OxyContin abuse and the “black box” warning on its label may have added to the abuse and diversion. The US Food and Drug Administration took steps by writing letters to Purdue Pharma, the manufacturers of OxyContin. Purdue Pharma developed a database to identify OxyContin abusers throughout the nation and also launched campaigns to educate patients through the internet. Further suggestions to managing the abuse of OxyContin include: community pharmacists’ assessment of behavioral risk factors that could lead to patient medication abuse; medication abuse risk management courses for physicians; development of a national database linking all pharmacies specifically designed to identify abusers; and tamper-resistant prescription pads for controlled substances, which seems the most plausible and immediate solution to this problem.

Keywords: OxyContin, abuse, diversion, prescription drug abuse