Study links rising heroin deaths to 2010 OxyContin reformulation

prescription pill bottle

(Notre Dame News, April 9) In 2010, the private pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma tried to reformulate the powerful painkiller Oxycontin to make it less addictive. But, according to new research, this effort did not help to reduce nationwide drug overdoses and may have amplified the heroin epidemic.

The paper, entitled “How the Reformulation of Oxycontin Ignited the Heroin Epidemic,” was co-authored by researchers from the University of Notre Dame and Boston University.

“A key component of the federal government’s response to the opioid epidemic has been encouraging the development of abuse-deterrent formulations of drugs,” William N. Evans, co-author of the study professor of Economics at Notre Dame said. “Our work suggests that as long as there are readily available substitutes for prescription opioids, such as heroin, reformulating painkillers will do little to mitigate the effect of the crisis.” Read more.