Oxycontin Patent Protection

May 2013

On April 17, 2013 Oxycontin was scheduled to go off the patent protection and become available for the generic marketplace. While WSI would generally welcome news of a highly utilized class of medications coming off patent, there were several concerns surrounding this particular generic formulation, specifically the potential for an increase in abuse and diversion.

Mindful of this, the FDA blocked the release of generic equivalents of the old formulations of Oxycontin. This is area in which the risk of abuse and diversion would have clearly outweighed any potential savings in drug spend for WSI.

Oxycontin was reformulated making the product more difficult to crush and/or dissolve. This also makes the product much more difficult to abuse, since the drug cannot be rapidly absorbed into the central nervous system and therefore does not lead to the sudden spikes in dopamine levels or rapid euphoria people are seeking.

The generic equivalents would have eliminated these safeguards. The action of the FDA should be applauded as allowing the generic formulations would have been a step backwards in the battle against prescription drug abuse.

For information on how providers and advocates can become more educated and engaged in the rise of prescription drug abuse, please visit the National Prescription Drug Abuse Summit homepage at http://nationalrxdrugabusesummit.org/

If you have questions about this article, please send an email to wsipr@nd.gov.