1. Aschenbrenner, Diane S. MS, APRN-BC


* OxyContin, the controlled-release formulation of oxycodone, has been reformulated to prevent misuse and abuse.


* Dissolving the new tablet in water now turns it into a gummy goo that can't be injected.



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OxyContin is a sustained- release form of the opioid narcotic oxycodone, approved in 1995 to treat moderate-to-severe chronic pain. Nonmedical use of OxyContin provides an emotional high, and over the last several years the drug has unfortunately become a drug of abuse.


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that approximately half a million people 12 years of age or older misused or abused OxyContin in 2008. When OxyContin is abused, it's usually crushed or broken before administration. The entire dose of narcotic is then immediately available when consumed (frequently by snorting or by dissolving and injecting the drug), as opposed to being released slowly over 12 hours. Using the drug in this manner can also cause narcotic overdosage, which can be fatal. There have been incidents of accidental overdosage when health care providers crushed or broke OxyContin because patients couldn't swallow the pill whole.


The FDA has now approved a new formulation of OxyContin that's intended to prevent the drug from being broken, crushed, or chewed. If the new formulation is dissolved, it will create a gummy substance that cannot be injected. However, a person can still take more tablets at once to obtain a high narcotic dose.


The manufacturer of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma, is planning to conduct a postmarketing study to determine whether the new formulation is effective in decreasing OxyContin abuse. Purdue will also provide additional education to health care providers on the appropriate use of opioid analgesics to treat pain.


Because there's a black market for the drug, nurses should educate patients and their families on the need for storing OxyContin safely. Nurses should also provide information on preventing accidental overdosage in patients receiving OxyContin for chronic pain; a new medication guide is also being created. For more information, go to the FDA's information page at