OxyContin abuse overshadows formulation fix

The reformulated version of OxyContin that became available last year appears to be delivering on Purdue's promise of an abuse-fighting trait touted--but not delivered--in the original formulation.

The original drug had a time-release mechanism that could be defeated simply by crushing the pills into a powder that could be ingested in a variety of ways, as abusers discovered. But that mechanism was "crucial in making doctors feel comfortable prescribing a powerful addictive drug," according to CNN Money.

With the new formulation, however, crushing breaks the pills into unusable chunks rather than a handy powder.

The new formulation appears to be working, according to the story. The OxyContin street price has dropped to 52 cents per milligram thanks to lower demand by frustrated addicts, down from 73 cents for the original formulation. But given "past marketing abuses and ongoing federal scrutiny, not to mention litigation risk and a history of bad press," the story says, Purdue has done little to tout its accomplishment.

Nonetheless, the FDA is encouraging other makers of painkillers to develop tamper-resistant formulas, according to article. And just in time: Frost & Sullivan projects a $15.3 billion painkiller market by 2016, up from $11 billion today.

- here's the article

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