In 2010, the formula for OxyContin, a slow-release form of the powerfully addictive painkiller oxycodone, was changed to make it harder to abuse. It became almost impossible to grind up and dissolve effectively, making it mostly useless to addicts who would snort, smoke, or inject the drug to get an instant high. It was supposed to stem the tide of abuse -- which, researchers say, it did. But at what cost?
"Our data show that OxyContin use by inhalation or intravenous administration has dropped significantly since that abuse-deterrent formulation came onto the market," said Theodore Cicero, a Washington University researcher who investigated its effects. "[But] the most unexpected, and probably detrimental, effect of the abuse-deterrent formulation was that it contributed to a huge surge in the use of heroin."More »