In 1995, the Food and Drug Administration approved the opioid OxyContin for treating chronic pain. The drug netted a quick $45 million in sales its first year on the market. Ten years later, sales of OxyContin ballooned to $3.1 billion and the incredibly powerful drug accounted for a whopping 30 percent of the entire painkiller market.
Rise of the Opiate Industry
Looking back, this astronomical rise in OxyContin use indicated a consequential mishandling of a highly addictive drug by manufacturers, distributors, commission-happy sales reps and policy-makers.
Today, the U.S. is still embroiled in a rampant epidemic of opioid addiction. Although OxyContin may not be the epidemic’s drug of choice any longer, there are a select number of drugs poised to be injected into its place.
One of those drugs is Opana.
Opana vs. Oxycontin: What You Need to Know
Interacting with the brain’s opiate receptors, much like morphine or heroin, Opana, otherwise known as oxymorphone, is a prescription pain medication that provides a “rush” similar to that of OxyContin…especially when snorted or injected.
Other facts of concern include:
- Opana is actually stronger than OxyContin per milligram.
- Although Opana is designed for extended-release delivery, abusers experience the full strength of the drug by crushing and injecting the pills, significantly increasing the risk of overdose.
- Some signs and symptoms of an Opana overdose generally include a severe slowing of breathing, sleepiness, “nodding” or passing out and a reduced heartbeat.
- In severe cases, a fatal overdose will cause respiratory failure and cardiac arrest.
Driven to Opana?
In 2010, OxyContin’s manufacturer reformulated the drug in an effort to combat its widespread abuse. The “new” OxyContin was harder to snort and inject, as “cooking” up the crushed pill mixture simply turned it into a gooey mess.
While the drug’s reformulation may have succeeded in some small measure, OxyContin abusers simply adapted to the market by searching for a new, easier drug to inject or snort. Not surprisingly, Opana has since become a street-favorite in the nation’s opioid epidemic, especially in rural parts of America.
Though Opana was also reformulated in 2013, users are still able to buy “old versions” from pill mills and other various sources. And generic Opana pills are still being manufactured and marketed in the easy-to-abuse formulation.
A Trail of Destruction
Recently in southeastern Indiana, authorities reported an outbreak of 26 confirmed HIV-positive cases. Not surprisingly, the report indicated that a majority of the HIV cases were linked to the injection of Opana.
This incident, like so many others, should be a reminder of opioid addiction’s devastating consequences. Although Opana may not be a household name yet, the drug’s popularity is steadily climbing and has already reached epidemic proportions in many parts of the country.
If you or someone you love is abusing Opana, it is crucial to seek professional help as the consequences of continued abuse are severe and life-threatening.
Additional Reading: The Fight Against Doctor Shopping Rages On
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