JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Nov. 15, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The new harder to crush version of OxyContin® has a lower street price than the original, according to research revealed at a conference of law enforcement officers today. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that every day 100 people die from drug overdoses in the United States, 74% involving prescription opioid pain relievers. A new formulation of the opioid pain reliever OxyContin was launched in 2010, accompanied by hope that it would deter drug abuse, injection and overdose. A year later, researchers have shown that the new formulation sells for 28% less than the original OxyContin on the black market, using street price data from the RADARS® System StreetRx.com, an online crowdsourcing website recently featured in Fortune magazine. The price per milligram of the new difficult to crush OxyContin is $0.56, compared to $0.78 for the original during the first half of this year. Similar results were seen in a survey of law enforcement officers from the RADARS System Drug Diversion program.
The results were presented by Nabarun Dasgupta at the 22nd Annual Educational Training Conference of the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI), in Jacksonville, Florida. Establsihed in 1989, NADDI is a unique organization whose hundreds of members are responsible for investigating and prosecuting pharmaceutical drug diversion throughout the United States. The audience, made up mostly of law enforcement officials, reacted positively to the street price data on OxyContin and confirmed that the new formulation was not worth as much as the original. "As the pharmaceutical industry tries to engineer new drugs that are harder to crush, snort or inject, the unregulated free market of diverted prescription drugs can reveal how effective these efforts are," says Dasgupta. "In the end, these products will be judged by the human suffering they cause or prevent. Black market street prices can tell us that story ahead of time."
The Researched Abuse, Diversion and Addiction-Related Surveillance (RADARS®) System (www.radars.org) is a surveillance system run by Denver Health for measuring rates of abuse, misuse and diversion throughout the United States, contributing to the understanding of trends and aiding the development of effective interventions. StreetRx.com and Drug Diversion Program are components of the RADARS System. The Drug Diversion Program is composed of hundreds of prescription drug diversion investigators or regulatory agencies who are surveyed quarterly and asked to report street prices for prescription drugs. The study is conducted by Dr. Hilary Surratt of Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. StreetRx.com is a website that assembles and organizes online crowd sourced information about the black-market price of prescription drugs. The street market for prescription medications—such as Vicodin®, Adderall®, and fentanyl—comprises a vast underground economy that is little studied and poorly understood. Launched by public-health researchers at Epidemico, Boston, Massachusetts, StreetRx closes this knowledge gap, providing an extensive, searchable database of the latest street price data.
In the analysis, data collected during the first six months of 2011 from StreetRx.com and Drug Diversion were compared. The small difference between the price estimates was expected, as individual drug users have a stronger self-interest to bargain for lower prices than undercover law enforcement agents who are trying to make a buy.