In 2010, a reformulated version of Oxycontin was released. The pharma giant, Perdue Pharma, said the new formula would help deter abuse. The new version of the pill couldn’t be crushed, snorted or smoked. This change was expected to make it more difficult for drug abusers to misuse it. It’s been nine years since the different drug formula went into effect, and neither the government nor Purdue Pharma will release information to the public on results.
“We asked for that data probably 40 or 50 times in last four or five years and were denied every time,” Dr. Raeford Brown, whose term as an FDA adviser ended last March, recently told the Washington Post. The committee she served on is still waiting to get the numbers from either the FDA or Purdue.
New Oxy Formula May Have Caused Other Public Health Crises
A study earlier this year by the RAND Corporation think tank showed that heroin use, overdoses, and overdose deaths skyrocketed when Oxycontin usage started to dip. When the drug was less available to users, or when people couldn’t support their habit through prescription drugs, some turned to heroin.
The increase in injected drugs caused hepatitis C rates to increase threefold in some towns and cities with high addiction rates. OxyContin reformulation also drove a spike in heroin-related deaths.
What’s Hidden in the Numbers?
Purdue Pharma is mired in lawsuits for their role as a manufacturer of Oxycontin. They have paid out settlements in several states. Their internal communications, as well as company documents, show awareness and disdain about the people addicted to their products. If the reformulation of Oxy ultimately caused more deaths, and they were aware of it, there could be more fuel for the fire.
Ultimately, there have been many studies that show that Oxy was pushed by doctors and to doctors in an unethical manner. History, judges, and grand juries have held the drug maker accountable. How much they plan on taking actual responsibility is still up in the air.
Publishers will still work to gather the information on the new formula. It’s up to the FDA and Purdue Pharma to answer the open records requests.