So many people grind up and inject or snort the powerful painkiller OxyContin that the drug’s maker has had to snap a plastic-like coating around the pill. The FDA says the improvement is marginal at best in reducing abuse of the drug, but better than nothing.

More than $2.3 billion worth of OxyContin was sold in the U.S. last year — more than any other prescription painkiller.

Gateway drug

Forget marijuana. The 2009 National Drug Threat Assessment says “a higher number of first-time abusers of drugs (2,147,000) abused opioid pain relievers [such as OxyContin] than any other drug in 2007,” and “Officials in treatment facilities throughout the country report that many abusers of prescription opiates such as OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin eventually begin abusing heroin because it is typically cheaper and easier to obtain, and it provides a more intense high.” — PS

AP via Yahoo:

OxyContin, the nation’s top-selling prescription painkiller last year with sales of more than $2 billion, was hailed as a breakthrough treatment for severe chronic pain when it was introduced in 1996. A time-release version of the narcotic oxycodone, it was designed for use over 12 hours to keep a steady state of the painkiller in the bodies of seriously ill patients.

However, Oxycontin and similar drugs were quickly adapted by drug abusers who discovered they could get a heroin-like high by crushing the pills and snorting or injecting the entire dose at once.

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