Generic Oxycontin Wins Approval

Will action invite more abuse?

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WEDNESDAY, March 24, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first two generic versions of Oxycontin (oxycodone hydrochloride), a powerful painkiller that's also been illegally used by drug abusers.

The drug swallowed whole can provide up to 12 hours of relief. But if chewed, snorted or injected, the opioid narcotic produces a quick and potentially deadly high, the Associated Press reports. It has been linked to more than 100 deaths and bears an FDA warning that it can be as addictive as morphine.

In a media statement, the agency calls the drug an important option for management of chronic pain associated with diseases like cancer. It says generic approval means the medication will be available at a lower cost to the estimated 10 million Americans who suffer from moderate to severe chronic pain.

But in recognizing the potential for abuse, the FDA says it has taken a number of preventive steps, including:

  • Increasing the number of state Prescription Monitoring Programs, which aim to detect suspicious prescriptions, including those from multiple physicians to the same patient.
  • Increasing resources to identify Internet-based "pill mills" that illegally provide controlled substances to visitors.
  • Providing resources to better educate and train doctors on pain management and opioid treatment procedures.

For more information about Oxycontin, visit the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

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