In an effort to protect the public from prescription drug abuse, a group of 37 doctors and public health officials have petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to change the prescription guidelines for opioid painkillers.
They have asked the FDA to change the labeling for drugs like OxyContin and Opana, prohibiting use of the drugs for treatment of moderate pain, adding a maximum daily dosage and specifying that patients should only take them for 90 days if not under treatment for cancer-related pain.
Opana is now almost universally sought out by opiate addicted individuals. This drug is a little newer and may not sound as familiar as OxyContin or Vicodin, but it creates the same type of “opiate high” as those drugs (and heroin).
Opana is especially notable for it’s potency (and thus, proclovity for addiction and overdose).
The Chicago Tribute recently focused on the growing problem of Opana abuse in rural areas of America. Opana, a narcotic painkiller that contains oxymorphone, is one of the highly addictive drugs that are part of the nation’s current epidemic of prescription drug abuse.
Scott County in Indiana is an example of the type of rural area that has been hardest hit by Opana abuse. Located in southern Indiana, the county has a population of about 24,000. According to county coroner Kevin Collins, at least 9 people have died from prescription drug overdoses so far this year. Most of these deaths were caused by Opana. Last year there were 19 overdose deaths in the county, amounting to about half of all cases investigated by the coroner. “We’re seeing a lot of 25-year-olds who are dead for no apparent reason,” said Collins.
Opana is referred to on the street as Octagons, Stop Signs, New Blues and a variety of other names. Unlike OxyContin, Opana pills can be crushed and then snorted or injected for a heroin-like high. Law enforcement officials attribute the rise in Opana abuse to the reformulation of OxyContin (the brand name for oxycodone). In 2010, the maker of OxyContin was pressured into making the pills harder to crush. Many former OxyContin abusers who have turned to Opana may be unaware that it is more potent than OxyContin and is associated with a great risk of overdose.
Until a few years ago, the most abused drug in small towns was methamphetamine. Prescription painkillers are now more widely abused than meth and the Centers for Disease Control has reported that more people are dying in the U.S. from prescription drugs than from cocaine and heroin combined.
Prescription drug abusers obtain drugs by doctor shopping or buy them from dealers or from people with legitimate prescriptions. According to Scott County Sheriff Dan McLain, one Opana pill can bring up to $90 on the street. Small towns also have their share of unethical doctors who will write prescriptions for a fee when there is no medical reason for the drug. In 2010, the equivalent of 48 oxycodone pills per capita were sold in the county – the highest number in the state.
Endo Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Opana, has announced that it will reformulate Opana to make the pills crush-proof. In the meantime, the crushable form of Opana is still readily available. Since Endo’s announcement, rural areas have seen an uptick in pharmacy robberies that involve Opana.
Opana is potentially deadly upon every use and those who are getting caught in the web of opiate dependency should seek treatment for opana addiction. For more up to date information about opana, refer to the American Addiction Foundation page about Opana.
Opana Replacing OxyContin for Many Abusers
In an effort to combat abuse of OxyContin, its maker Purdue Pharma recently changed the formula of OxyContin tablets. Abusers typically crush the pills and then chew, inject or snort them. The new formula, which makes the pills more difficult to crush, has caused some people who are addicted to OxyContin to switch to heroin
or other opiate prescription drugs. As a result, the prescription drug Opana is seeing a rise in popularity as a street drug.
Opana, the brand name for oxymorphone hydrochloride, is a narcotic painkiller that is similar to morphine. It is prescribed for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. Opana is also available in an extended-release form known as Opana ER that is intended to provide around-the-clock treatment for chronic pain. Among prescription drug abusers, Opana is referred to by several slang names that are derived from its appearance including pink lady, pink heaven, stop signs, octagons and The O Bomb.
A key difference between Opana and OxyContin, which is based on oxycodone, is that oxymorphone is more of a sedative and provides a shorter euphoric high. This shorter high makes Opana extremely habit-forming since abusers require more of the drug to maintain the desired level of euphoria.
The effects and symptoms of Opana addiction and abuse include:
An overdose of Opana may lead to circulatory collapse, apnea, cardiac arrest and death.
Opana has only been on the market for about 5 years, so its full potential for abuse is not yet known. According to its manufacturer, Endo Pharmaceuticals, it was introduced as an alternative for patients who develop a tolerance for other types of painkillers. Endo previously marketed oxymorphone under the name Numorphan but was forced to withdraw it from the market in 1972 because it was highly sought after by opioid addicts. Numorphan tablets, known on the street as “blues” due to their color, were very easy to dissolve and inject and were highly potent when used intravenously.
According to the DEA, uninformed Opana abusers who have previously used Oxycontin are at risk of unintentional overdose because Opana is stronger than OxyContin. In addition, a safe dose of Opana when injected is lower than the safe oral dose, increasing the risk for overdose.
The treatment for Opana addiction is similar to treatment for other types of opioids. Detoxification is required to overcome withdrawal from physical addition, followed by residential drug treatment, addiction therapy and follow-up counseling. For more information about the signs symptoms and dangers of opana click here.
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