Prescription opioids were favorites among drug abusers until pharmaceutical companies began manufacturing tamper-proof pills. However, patents for Oxycontin and Opana ER are set to expire next year, and experts predict opioid abuse will rise once again as generic drugs return to the market.
Unfortunately when one drug goes out, another comes in and plans are underway for many generic brands of painkillers that are already highly abused and dangerous.
Opioids (also known as narcotics) are natural or synthetic derivatives of the opium poppy. This group includes such substances as:
• Morphine–an effective painkiller that all other opioids are modeled after.
• Oxycodone–a semi-synthetic opioid that is contained in a time-release formula in Oxycontin. It is a painkiller used for moderate to severe pain, especially in cancer patients.
• Methadone–a synthetic opioid used to treat morphine or heroin addictions.
• Vicodin–used for severe pain.
• Codeine–used in cough and cold medicine for its anesthetic and cough-suppressant properties.
• Hydrocodone–used in combination with other painkillers like acetaminophen to treat moderate to severe pain. This is the most highly-prescribed opioid, according to the DEA.
Opioids date back to ancient Egypt and are the most addictive substances known to man. Pharmaceutical companies used to manufacture Oxycontin and other pills as small, white tablets that abusers would crush into powder for snorting, smoking or ingestion. Manufacturers changed their formulas so that pills couldn’t be crushed and turned to gel upon contact with water. That was when the statistics on pill abuse crashed, and most opioid addicts turned to heroin for a cheaper high.
With generic oxycodone on the market, however, it could mean a massive uptick in those statistics, with prescription drug abuse once again soaring to new heights.
The Facts on Prescription Pills
In the United States, prescription opioids cause more deaths than all illicit drugs combined (including heroin and cocaine).
In 2009, fifteen thousand Americans died of painkiller overdoses.
In 2010, painkiller overdoses were responsible for 1.3 million visits to the emergency room. That is an increase of 115% since 2004.
Generic Drugs in Canada
The prescription drug problem is just as bad in Canada, where Oxycontin is known as Hillbilly Heroin. Last spring, the makers of Oxycontin and Opana ER stopped selling their time-release formulas and generic oxycodone was put back on the market. Politicians were at odds over what to do about the impending increase in pill abuse, but Canadian Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq stated that federal law prevents the banning of a drug just because some people abuse it. Why should people in pain be denied the proper treatment?
The solution was to monitor the drugs more closely in Canada. This year the Ministry of Health will implement more rigorous licensing rules. Pharmacists will be required to report all losses and theft, and any spikes in sales or changes in distribution patterns will have to be reported.
U.S. border patrols and police are on the lookout for the impending pipeline of generic oxycodone from Canada.
In addition to this children have to be educated on the dangers of prescription drugs and why they should not take them to begin with. This coupled with effective treatment for those addicted can bring about a real solution to the problem of substance abuse.
For more information contact www.narconon.org.