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Promising New Painkiller Raises Concern Over Drug Abuse

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(Credit: Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

(Credit: Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

(Dr. Brian McDonough) Dr. Brian McDonough
Dr. Brian McDonough has been medical editor at KYW Newsradio for more...
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By Dr. Brian McDonough

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Drug companies are working to develop a pure, more powerful version of the nation’s second most-abused medicine. That has addiction experts worried that it could spur a new wave of abuse.

We have a tremendous problem in this country of prescription drugs being abused. The most classic example is Oxycodone. It is the most abused medicine in the United States. Oxycodone was developed back in 1995 and it was designed to be a medication that had a slow release of the pain killing effect. Abusers quickly discovered they could defeat the time release by crushing the pills and getting a fast high.

Now, researchers at drug companies are working to develop a pure, more powerful version of the medication that could help people with pain but it could also cause severe problems. What we’re talking about is a new pill containing a highly addictive painkiller, Hydrocodone, packing up to ten times the amount of the drug in existing medications.

Now, this could be great for people with severe pain, but the problem is it could be a new drug of abuse. If you don’t think we have a problem, realize that we do. Emergency room visits related to Hydrocodone abuse have shot from 19,000 in the year 2000 to over 86,000 in 2009 and the problem is getting worse.

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