Monday, March 27, 2017
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oxycontinOxycodone is Schedule II in the United States. This means it is illegal to sell without a DEA license and illegal to buy or possess without a license or prescription.

Addictive Potential: High

Emergency Room Visits Yearly: 24,623 in 2003 more…

Mandatory Minimum Sentence: Not more than 20 years

Mechanism of Action: Opioid Receptor Agonist – Increases Endorphin Levels


Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic opioid derived from the alkaloid thebaine, unlike most early opium-derived drugs which instead used the morphine or codeine alkaloids also found in the plant.

Oxycodone was first synthesized in a German laboratory in 1916, a few years after the German pharmaceutical company Bayer had stopped the mass production of heroin due to addiction and abuse by both patients and physicians. It was hoped that a thebaine-derived drug would retain the analgesic effects of morphine and heroin with less of the euphoric effect which led to addiction and over-use.

It is effective orally and is marketed in combination with aspirin (Percodan, Endodan, Roxiprin) or paracetamol/acetaminophen (Percocet, Endocet, Roxicet, Tylox) for the relief of pain. More recently, ibuprofen has been added to oxycodone (Combunox). It is also sold in a sustained-release form by Purdue Pharma under the trade name OxyContin as well as generic equivalents, and instant-release forms Endone, OxyIR, OxyNorm, Percolone, OxyFAST, and Roxicodone. Roxicodone is available in 5, 15, and 30 mg tablets. OxyContin is currently available in 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 45, 60, 80 and 160 mg tablets (although note that not all of these dosages are marketed in the USA) and, due to its sustained-release mechanism, is effective for eight to twelve hours.

In the United States, oxycodone is a Schedule II controlled substance both as a single agent and in combination with products containing acetaminophen, ibuprofen or aspirin.

OxyContin is becoming an increasingly more publicized and known drug to the general public. The discovery of its recreational benefits has led to an illicit underground market. Due to acts such as pharmacy diversion and “doctor shopping” the drug is widely available to those without a prescription. The increased misuse of the drug has led to a higher number of emergency department mentions and deaths associated with oxycodone. Between 1994 and 2001 there was a reported 352% increase in ER visits related to all forms of Oxycodone usage. This is possibly in part due to the availability of Oxycontin beginning in 1995. Despite the increased efforts by the FDA, DEA, and state/local authorities, along with this negative publicity of the drug is not stopping its illicit use, but instead seems to be fueling the underground market. The Oxycontin tablets that are most commonly diverted and abused, are the 40mg tablets, which sell on the black market for approximately $15-40 per tablet. OC’s are insufflated (snorted), injected, chewed, or smoked – as these methods of consumption destroy the built-in time release and give the user all of the drug at once, resulting in a euphoric and blissful rush; however, this can be dangerous, as far more oxycodone is released than medically safe.

Substance Identification:

     Mandelin Reagent          Marquis Reagent     Mecke Reagent   
Oxycodone HCl Dark greenish yellow Pale violet Moderate olive

(Info provided by DOJ, 2014)

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