Abuse of prescription narcotics remains one of America’s fastest growing drug problems. But rates of illicit use of some prescription opioids like OxyContin — drugs that have been subject to the most rampant abuse — are finally starting to decline.
Stepped-up enforcement against illegal diversion is one reason. More significant are changes in the medicines themselves. New technologies make the drugs less prone to manipulation and therefore much less likely to be used illegally in the first place.
Some of the most widely abused drugs, including OxyContin, have been re-engineered in tamper-resistant formulations and introduced in place of their original versions. Rates of abuse have fallen sharply as a consequence.
But the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may let the older, riskier versions back onto the market in the form of cheap generic drugs — reigniting the original problems. Ample evidence shows that criminal use will simply shift to the generic drugs, since these older pills are easier to abuse. It will undermine efforts undertaken by industry and policymakers to design the new tamper-resistant drugs as a way to combat the problem.
Read the full article at American.com.