After reformulation in 2010, OxyContin use dropped from 47.4% to 30%, but heroin use nearly doubled.
"In August 2010, an abuse-deterrent formulation of the widely abused
prescription opioid OxyContin was introduced. The intent was to make
OxyContin more difficult to solubilize or crush, thus discouraging abuse
through injection and inhalation. We examined the effect of the
abuse-deterrent formulation on the abuse of OxyContin and other opioids.
Data were collected quarterly from July 1, 2009, through March 31, 2012,
with the use of self-administered surveys that were completed
anonymously by independent cohorts of 2,566 patients with opioid
The selection of OxyContin as a primary drug of abuse decreased from
35.6% of respondents before the release of the abuse-deterrent
formulation to just 12.8% 21 months later.
Of all opioids used to “get high in the past 30 days at least once," OxyContin fell from 47.4% of respondents to 30.0%, whereas heroin use nearly doubled (see chart above, click to enlarge).
Our data show that an abuse-deterrent formulation successfully reduced
abuse of a specific drug but also generated an unanticipated outcome:
replacement of the abuse-deterrent formulation with alternative opioid
medications and heroin, a drug that may pose a much greater overall risk
to public health than OxyContin. Thus, abuse-deterrent formulations may
not be the “magic bullets” that many hoped they would be in solving the
growing problem of opioid abuse.
MP: That's why the law of unintended consequences is called a "law." It also confirms the reality that the "stronger the drug laws, the stronger and more dangerous the drugs."
HT: Morgan Frank