No, really? –

Sept. 12, 2020 – The surge of painkiller abuse that started in the 1990s has long been linked to OxyContin, which launched in 1996.

Unlike the original drug, the revamped version was found to limit abuse through snorting and injecting, though data from Purdue and others did not indicate the updated version overall led to a decline in abuse or overdoses, FDA experts said in nonbinding votes.

Making them more difficult to crush and dissolve, Purdue representatives said Friday, signaled a “meaningful incremental improvement” over the drug’s predecessor.

Like with many other drugs involved in opioid addictions, though, the OxyContin tablets can be abused if a user just swallows them.

Purdue data showed that OxyContin prescriptions and illegal trafficking dipped after replacing the original.

Panelists were less convinced, noting they could not determine whether the decline was liked to Purdue’s revamping or other factors that influence the usage of opioids, like government crackdowns.

Because overdoses generally involve multiple drugs, some panelists found it difficult to figure out exactly which drug caused the death and overdose in question.

Dr. Lewis Nelson of Rutgers University, for his part, found the evidence to be of a “fairly poor” quality.

Purdue’s tablet was the first opioid drugmakers developed in the hopes of limiting their abuse. Their use is still being reviewed by the FDA and they only account for 2% of opioid prescriptions in the U.S.

Another hurdle in determining the true impact of the altered drug is the amount of OxyContin users who opted instead for generic pain medication or illicit opioids.

Federal data shows that the U.S. saw 71,000 drug overdose deaths last year, a record high. About half of those deaths were attributed to synthetic opioids like fentanyl.