By John Ostapkovich

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Law enforcement agencies are on alert for people who are willing to acquire a powerful painkiller called Opana at point of gun.

Opana is on opioid, like Oxycontin, says Pharmacy Doctor Bruce Canaday, department chair at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, and it has gained traction among drug abusers.  One reason, Canaday says, is the drug Oxycontin, once highly-valued by junkies, has changed.

“Not too long ago, they reformulated their product so that now if you try to open it up or crush it or mix it with water, it turns to a viscous jelly-like substance which is very hard to snort of shoot.”

And, that has drug abusers looking for Opana.

“There was a relatively rapid wholesale shift in drug abuse from that product which was very difficult to abuse now to the Opana, which was not now not difficult to abuse, and it’s also much more dangerous, because it’s much more potent than Oxycontin was, so 40 mg of one doesn’t equal 40 mg of the other.”

The maker of Opana has also reformulated the pill to deter abuse, and there have been pharmacy stickups in the midwest where the crook specifically demands it in its original and easier-to-abuse version.

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