Is Oxymorphone the Next Oxycontin?

April 11, 2011

Reports out of Kentucky and elsewhere indicate that the abuse and misuse of Opana may be on the rise.

Reports out of Kentucky and elsewhere indicate that the abuse and misuse of Opana may be on the rise.

According to an article in The Courier-Journal, following the recent release of an abuse-resistant formulation of oxycontin, there has been “a surge in the illegal use of the painkiller Opana” (oxymorphone HCl) in Kentucky.

Citing nine recent overdose deaths in Louisville alone, Sgt. John McGuire of the Louisville Metro Police Department's narcotics unit said that illegal use of Opana has become much more prevalent. The Jefferson County (Louisville) coroner's office said that it expects that number to rise

Dan Smoot, of Operation UNITE, a “federal initiative providing undercover narcotics investigations and addiction treatment in Eastern Kentucky,” said that he predicts that Opana “will be the next Oxycontin” in terms of prevalence of abuse.

One interesting aspect of this (especially if you’ve been following our reporting on the situation in Florida) is that McGuire told the Courier-Journal that narcotics officers trying to “track the origins of the pills that they've seized or that were found at overdose scenes” are reporting that only a small percentage of the drugs are from Louisville doctors. The vast majority of seized pills are from out of state, often Florida.

HCPLive wants to know:

Have you heard from law enforcement officials in your community that Opana is becoming “the drug of choice” in the wake of the reformulation of oxycontin to a more abuse-resistant formulation?

Have you noticed any increase in the number of patients specifically requesting prescriptions for Opana or oxymorphone?

Do you regularly prescribe Opana for severe persistent pain? In addition to standard monitoring and evaluating patients for compliance, do you take any additional precautions to prevent the abuse, misuse, or diversion of this medication?

In your experience, is a patient who asks specifically for Opana, oxymorphone, oxycontin, or other pain medication likely to be a drug seeker? How do you handle such situations if/when they arise?

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