With the release of the new television series “Dopesick,” which chronicles Perdue Pharma’s infamous role in opioid addiction in the United States, has come great interest in OxyContin and Oxycodone. Indeed, there is an ongoing unmet need for nonaddictive medications that are effective in treating severe pain.
Recently, a new type of OxyContin was formulated with the specific goal of deterring abuse. Given that the Oxycontin that lack of access to previous forms of OxyContin often led to heroin addiction, it has been important to evaluate the potential risks that abuse-deterrent OxyContin could pose regarding heroin addiction.
A new study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence investigated the effects of the reformulation of OxyContin and specifically addressed their association with heroin use. For their study, researchers used survey data from 1999 to 2019 to see how adolescent heroin use changed once OxyContin was reformulated in 2010. They found that the release of abuse-deterrent OxyContin was correlated with a reduction in adolescents who reported using heroin. When the researchers dove deeper into the data, they discovered that this effect was largest for adolescent males and for those who were of non-white races.
Based on these data, the researchers conclude that abuse-deterrent OxyContin may be associated with less heroin use than previous formulations and that by continuing to innovate in both the pharmaceutical industry and in policymaking, these data provide hope that adolescent heroin use and prescription opioid misuse may be able to be reduced. Future data will help to clarify what role abuse-deterrent OxyContin can play in helping physicians to reduce pain while avoiding drug abuse and addiction in those patients they treat.
DiNardi, M. The release of abuse-deterrent OxyContin and adolescent heroin use. Drug and alcohol dependence. 2021;229(Pt B):109114. doi:10.1016/J.DRUGALCDEP.2021.109114