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Addiction Medicine FYI

OXY (Oxycontin)

NEW DRUG OF CHOICE SWEEPS NEW ENGLAND
PAIN KILLER - OXYCONTIN  "OXY"

Oxycontin is the trade name for Oxycodone HCL controlled-release tablets. It is manufactured by Purdue Pharma and is a pure mu-opioid agonist. Oxycontin is a schedule II controlled substance and is manufactured in 10mg, 20mg, 40mg, and 80mg tablets.  Physicians prescribe this analgesic medication to patients with severe or chronic pain conditions because it is very useful secondary to its time-release feature. The strength is approximately 50 % of a morphine dose.

On the streets, people are saying that OXY can produce a high so close to heroin that the black market sales are soaring. OXY is being sold on the street for $1 per mg, making a bottle of 100, 40mg tablets worth $4000. Opiate users crush the small white tablets to remove the time-release coating, then snort or inject the powder. The rush is similar to  heroin.  As a mu-agonist, the same risks are present as with heroin use, i.e. too large a dose can cause respiratory depression and death. Of course, physical dependence with significant withdrawal occurs with OXY use.

Although OASAS’ Office of Applied Studies noted that their data from 1991-98  has not yet reported Oxycontin as a drug of abuse in New York State,  we are concerned that its widespread use in New England may soon spread to our state.

The medical community is being told to be more aggressive with the treatment of pain. However, this leaves the door open to illegal use, diversion and prescription forgery due to the very attractive street value. Many of the illegal sales have involved Medicaid-paid prescriptions, so many in fact that the Assistant U.S. Attorney, Helen Kazanjian, stated that she feels OXY use is "federally funded drug abuse."