No Choice When It Comes to OxyContin: Brand-Name or Nothing

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Don’t look for a generic cheaper version of this powerful painkiller coming our way anytime soon.

By Lorie A. Parch

If you take an opioid analgesic to ease serious pain, you don’t need to be told that there’s rampant abuse of such drugs and that a crackdown to curtail it can mean that it’s much harder for you to get the medication you need.

Ending the misuse of pain meds is serious: Nearly 75% of prescription drug overdoses are the result of prescription painkillers, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In 2010, more than 12 million people said they had taken a prescription pain drug for nonmedical reasons, the CDC said.

The effort to prevent abuse included the introduction in April 2010 of a version of OxyContin that was difficult to crush (abusers often had pulverized the pill to snort or inject for a faster high). When taken as directed, the drug releases relief over an extended period.

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, which introduced the painkiller in 1995, recently announced that it was pleased with the Food and Drug Administration’s decision to withdraw the original version “for reasons of safety or effectiveness.” But the end result is that generic versions of OxyContin will not be developed, reported the Los Angeles Times, among other media outlets.

The FDA ruling will likely have important repercussions for patients the price of OxyContin, which will remain $5 to $8 a pill, the Times said.

Abusers face a possible consequence even more dire.

A letter to the editor published in the July edition of the New England Journal of Medicine noted data showing that many OxyContin addicts didn’t give up when faced with the uncrushable replacement. They simply moved on to heroin.

What do you think about the FDA’s banning of a generic version of OxyContin? Please join our community to discuss.

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