Have you ever heard of the drug Opana? You might be surprised to learn that Opana is the brand name for oxymorphone which is a semi-synthetic opioid analgesic first developed in Germany in 1914. Yes, 1914! According to a Wikipedia article:
“Slang terms for oxymorphone include: blues, biscuits, blue heaven, new blues (although the immediate-release tablets are pink and off-white), octagons (extended release), [strength] octagons, stop signs, pink, pink heaven, biscuits (could also be Dilaudid tablets, meprobamate tablets, or formerly Quaaludes), pandas, pancakes, pink heaven, pink lady, Mrs O, Orgasna IR, OM, Pink O, The O Bomb (by analogy to the slang term for hydromorphone “H Bomb”) and others.”
Perhaps some of these slang terms sound familiar, perhaps not. But today Opana abuse is in the news; reportedly its abuse now rivals OxyContin. Like OxyContin, Opana underwent a formula redesign to make it harder to abuse. The new version was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) late 2011; however, though the old formula is now listed by the FDA as a discontinued drug, it still remains available in some market areas. Here are a few statistics as reported by USA Today:
- Nassau County, N.Y., issued a health alert in 2011 when the New York City suburb saw the first signs of an alarming spike in Opana use. Medicaid data for the county showed prescriptions for extended-release Opana had increased 45% in six months. Since then, Reynolds said, the problem has worsened. “Opana has emerged as the key drug of choice,” said Reynolds, who estimates that 80% of the 600 people who seek help each month from the Long Island Council use Opana.
- A DEA intelligence briefing noted increases in Opana uses in Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia, and Delaware. In New Castle, Del., the DEA said, drug users had switched from uncrushable OxyContin to the crushable oxymorphone “for ease of use,” pushing the price for a 40 mg tablet to $65. A tablet costs $4 to $8 when purchased legitimately at a pharmacy.
- In Ohio, authorities in Akron, Cincinnati and Athens noted surges in Opana as a replacement for OxyContin, the state’s Substance Abuse Monitoring Network reported earlier this year. One unnamed drug abuser in Youngstown told network monitors “no one wants the new oxys now that (Purdue) change the makeup of them,” the Ohio Substance Abuse Monitoring Network noted in its January surveillance report. Opana 40 mg tablets sell for $60 to $70 each, outpacing the once-popular old formulation OxyContin, which now sells for at least $1 a milligram, the report said. The less popular new formulation of OxyContin 40 mg sells for $20 to $30, the report said.
Here is a video report from New England Cable News (NECN):
If you are having problem viewing the video, you can see it here.
Take a bit of time to learn more about Opana, remember it is not new, but the level of abuse is now more visible.