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 Abuse of Pain Killer OxyContin

A News Analysis By Terence T. Gorski, March 2, 2001

 There are indicators of growing abuse of and addiction to the synthetic narcotic painkiller OxyContin.  OxyContin is a form of synthetic morphine taken in tablet form designed to kill pain over several hours.  It is primarily used by cancer patients.  

The drug is being abused by addicts who intensify itís euphoric heroin-like effects by by injecting or snorting it.  Dr. J. David Haddox of Purdue Pharma said OxyContin, when abused, can significantly slow breathing and is easily overdosed.  The abuse of OxyContin appears to be most common in small, isolated areas, although no one is sure why.

According to the Associated Press, there was a meeting between the drug maker, Purdue Pharma, and law enforcement officials from five states on March 1, 2001.  Those attending the meeting included officials from West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, Kentucky and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. OxyContin has caused an increase in crime and death in Virginia, where 32 overdose deaths have been reported.

Purdue Pharma said it would help combat abuse by making tamper-resistant prescription containers for areas of southwest Virginia where authorities say abuse is rampant and spending $100,000 on a study of prescription monitoring programs in Virginia.   The company will also form two drug abuse task forces and investigate the illegal sale of drugs over the Internet.

Authorities said doctors may be over-prescribing the drug and making it too widely available. But Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. said he hoped doctors would not hesitate to provide it to those truly in need.  ``Where there is pain that can be relieved, we want it to be relieved,'' Curran said.

On the Net: Drug Enforcement Administration: and Purdue Pharma/


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