PIKEVILLE, Ky. — According to law enforcement agencies that were formed for the purpose of fighting drugs in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, a new fear has risen regarding the powerfully addictive prescription pain-killer, Oxycontin.
“OxyContin’s a wonderful drug for somebody on cancer or a long term illness,” said Dan Smoot, law enforcement director for Operation UNITE. “However; we’re concerned that a generic form of the drug could soon find its way to Kentucky since it was recently created in a form that was easily abused.”
“I think we all remember when Oxycontin first hit the market. It swept through Eastern Kentucky like a wildfire. It was easily crushed and then snorted or injected through a syringe,” said Smoot.
In 2005, the drug was redesigned to be more resistant to crushing, but the patent on the original version will soon expire. According to the Office of National Drug Abuse Policy, Canada has already approved a non-abuse-resistant generic version.
“Already, generic makers of the original Oxycontin crushable pill are now beginning to prepare to flood us with the killer drug all over again,” said Kentucky House of Representative Hal Rogers.
Drug officials say they’ve made great strides against Oxycontin abuse since the early 2000’s, but have seen an increase in the abuse of other prescription pain medication such as Percocet. They’re concerned though, that a generic form would create a resurgence in drug abuse.
“It left quite a bit of devastation in its wake and I don’t think we have fully recovered from the original Oxycontin epidemic. That’s my biggest fear, that this will do nothing but refuel the hunger for oxycodone,” said Smoot.
Both Congressman Rogers and Smoot say the only way to prevent another wave of abuse is for generic makers to make their versions non-crushable, just like the newer name brand.
“I believe that the technology’s out there to prevent this. I believe that in my heart, you can’t convince me otherwise,” said Smoot. “If we go back to the old, original form of Oxycontin, we’re going to see the same kind of death and destruction we saw a few years ago when the drug first hit the streets.”