Prescriptions for OxyContin and Other Opioids

"According to IMS Health data, the annual number of OxyContin prescriptions for noncancer pain increased nearly tenfold, from about 670,000 in 1997 to about 6.2 million in 2002. In contrast, during the same 6 years, the annual number of OxyContin prescriptions for cancer pain increased about fourfold, from about 250,000 in 1997 to just over 1 million in 2002. The noncancer prescriptions therefore increased from about 73 percent of total OxyContin prescriptions to about 85 percent during that period, while the cancer prescriptions decreased from about 27 percent of the total to about 15 percent. IMS Health data indicated that prescriptions for other schedule II opioid drugs, such as Duragesic and morphine products, for noncancer pain also increased during this period. Duragesic prescriptions for noncancer pain were about 46 percent of its total prescriptions in 1997, and increased to about 72 percent of its total in 2002. Morphine products, including, for example, Purdue's MSContin, also experienced an increase in their noncancer prescriptions during the same period. Their noncancer prescriptions were about 42 percent of total prescriptions in 1997, and increased to about 65 percent in 2002."

Source: 

General Accounting Office, "Prescription Drugs: Oxycontin Abuse and Diversion and Efforts to Address the Problem," GAO-04-110 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, December 2003), p. 18.
http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d...

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