Purdue Pharma‘s reformulation of OxyContin was supposedly meant to curb abuse of the product, although it’s questionable how successful that attempt has been. While some have already found ways to abuse the new version, known as OP, other ramifications include more people turning to painkillers like Opana. Now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning that abusers who inject Opana into their bloodstream risk developing a serious blood disorder that could result in kidney failure or death. The blood disorder, thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, resulted in kidney failure requiring dialysis in some cases and at least one death, the agency said.
Another effect of Oxy’s reformulation has been a spike in heroin abuse, with painkiller addicts turning to the hardcore street drug when pills become too expensive or scarce, according to a letter published in July in the New England Journal of Medicine. Three researchers examined the effect of the abuse-deterrent formulation on the abuse of OxyContin and other opioids, surveying 2,566 people seeking treatment for abuse of or dependence on opioid drugs. Although 24 percent found a way to defeat the tamper-resistant properties of the abuse-deterrent formulation, 66 percent indicated a switch to another opioid, with heroin the most common response.