'New' OxyContin draws fire from some experts
The federal government has approved a new formula for OxyContin to discourage the abuse of the drug, but those on the front lines say it may be too little, too late.
“You are led to believe it is now going to be almost tamper-proof,” said state Sen. Steven Tolman, D-Brighton, chairman of the state OxyContin and Heroin Commission. “It either is or it isn’t. I hate to be negative but I didn’t get a lot of comfort with this.”
The Food and Drug Administration earlier this month approved the new formula for the time-release OxyContin that is intended to prevent the pills from being cut, broken, chewed, crushed or dissolved to release more medication.
The FDA noted the improvement may lead to less overdose risk due to tampering – but it can still be abused or misused if people take more doses than recommended.
“OxyContin should be taken off the market,” she said. “There are other drugs out there. OxyContin hurts far more people and costs far more lives than it has ever saved.”
Larry Golbom, a pharmacist and host of Prescriptionaddictionradio.com, said he doesn’t believe the new formula will prevent abuse or tampering of the drug and wonders what happens if it is heated.
“There appears to be very few heating studies on it,” Golbom said. “We believe without heating studies, it appears that this drug can even more easily be injected than previously.”
He said doesn’t see much difference with the “new” OxyContin formula when it comes to abuse and addiction.
“There is nothing that would indicate that there isn’t a way to abuse this product,” Golbom said. “Someone who is craving the OxyContin is going to figure out a way to get it out of the tablet.”
According to the FDA, the drug’s manufacturer, Purdue Pharma L.P., will be required to conduct a study on how – or if – the new formula reduces abuse of the drug.
Tolman said the company should have done something much earlier.
“It is a lot too little, too late. It is difficult to establish trust against a company that has created such destruction,” the lawmaker said.
Three of the company’s current and former executives pleaded guilty in 2007 to misleading the public about the safety of OxyContin and the company agreed to pay $634.5 million in fines in a federal court settlement. It was one of the largest penalties imposed on a drug company.
About half a million people used OxyContin non-medically for the first time in 2008, according to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health
Enterprise writer Maureen Boyle may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.