OxyContin and Prescription Drug Abuse: Miracle Medicine or Problem Drug?

By Inciardi, James A.; Goode, Jennifer L. | Consumers' Research Magazine, July 2003 | Go to article overview

OxyContin and Prescription Drug Abuse: Miracle Medicine or Problem Drug?


Inciardi, James A., Goode, Jennifer L., Consumers' Research Magazine


If anything has been learned about the drug problem in the United States, it is that patterns of drug abuse are continually shifting and changing. Fads and fashions in the drugs of abuse seem to come and go; drugs of choice emerge and then disappear from the American drug scene; and still others are reconstituted, repackaged, recycled, and become permanent parts of the drug-taking and drug-seeking landscape. And as new drugs become visible, there are the concomitant media and political feeding frenzies, followed by calls for a strengthening of the "war on drugs." It happened with heroin in the 1950s, with marijuana and LSD in the 1960s, with Quaalude and PCP in the 1970s, and with methamphetamine, "ice," ecstasy, crack and other forms of cocaine in the 1980s and 1990s. The most recent entry to the drug scene to receive this focused attention is OxyContin--a narcotic painkiller several times more potent than morphine.

Since OxyContin was first introduced to the market in early 1996, it has been hailed as a breakthrough in pain management. The medication is unique in that its time-release formula allows patients to enjoy continuous, long-term relief from moderate to severe pain. For many patients who had suffered for years from chronic pain, it gave them relief from suffering. But during the past three years OxyContin has received a substantial amount of negative attention--not for its medicinal effects, but for its addiction liability and abuse potential.

OxyContin and Oxycodone. The active ingredient in OxyContin is "oxycodone," a drug that has been used for the treatment of pain for almost 100 years. Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic narcotic analgesic most often prescribed for moderate to severe pain, chronic pain syndromes, and terminal cancers. When used correctly under a physician's supervision, oxycodone can be highly effective in the management of pain, and there are scores of oxycodone products on the market-in various strengths and forms. Popular brands include Percocet and Percodan; Roxicet and Roxicodone; and Endocet, OxyIR, and Tylox, to name but a few. However, no oxycodone product has generated as much attention as OxyContin.

Produced by the Stamford, Connecticut-based pharmaceutical company, Purdue Pharma L.P., OxyContin is unique because unlike other oxycodone products that typically contain aspirin or acetaminophen to increase or lengthen their potency, OxyContin is a single entity product that can provide up to 12 hours of continuous pain relief. Tablets are available in 10-, 20-, 40-, and 80-milligram doses. The company also introduced a 160-milligram dose in July 2000 for its opioid-tolerant patients, only later to withdraw it from the market amidst controversy over its alleged abuse.

When the clinical trials for OxyContin were reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration, the drug was demonstrated to be an effective analgesic in individuals with chronic, moderate-to-severe pain. Yet it was also judged by the FDA to carry a substantial risk of abuse because of its properties as a narcotic. As a result, OxyContin was approved by the FDA but placed in Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which is the tightest level of control that can be placed on an approved drug for medical purposes. The placement of OxyContin in Schedule II warned physicians and patients that the drug carried a high potential for abuse and that it needed to be carefully managed, particularly among those at risk for substance abuse. In addition, in the Physicians' Desk Reference and on the drug's package insert, OxyContin carries a boxed warning--more commonly known as the infamous "black box."

Importantly, this "black box," voluntarily inserted in the packaging information by Purdue Pharma in 2001, alerts potential users that taking broken, chewed, or crushed OxyContin tablets leads to rapid release and absorption of a potentially fatal dose of the drug. But even before the insertion of the "black box," drug abusers had figured out how to compromise OxyContin's controlled-release formula and set off on a powerful high by injecting or snorting dissolved tablets or by crushing and ingesting them. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

OxyContin and Prescription Drug Abuse: Miracle Medicine or Problem Drug?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.