Could a generic version of OxyContin fuel drug abuse?

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LONDON, Ky. (WKYT) - Drug officials say painkillers like OxyContin have their place.

"OxyContin's a wonderful drug for somebody on cancer or a long term illness," said Dan Smoot, law enforcement director for Operation UNITE.

They're concerned, though, that a generic form of the drug could soon find its way to Kentucky. OxyContin was originally created in a form that was easily abused.

"I think we all remember when OxyContin first hit the market. It swept through East Kentucky like a wildfire. It was just crushed, snorted, or injected," said Smoot.

In 2005, the drug was redesigned to be more resistant to crushing, but the patent on the original version will soon expire. According to the Office of National Drug Abuse Policy, Canada has already approved a non-abuse-resistant generic version.

"Already, generic makers of the original OxyContin crushable pill, are already now beginning to prepare to flood us with the killer drug all over again," said Representative Hal Rogers.

Drug officials say they've made inroads against OxyContin abuse since the early 2000s and abuse of other painkillers like percocet has taken its place. They're concerned though, that a generic form would create a resurgence in drug abuse.

"It left quite a bit of devastation in its wake and I don't think we have fully recovered from the original OxyContin epidemic. That's my biggest fear, that this will do nothing but refuel the hunger for oxycodone," said Smoot.

Both Congressman Rogers and Smoot say the only way to prevent another wave of abuse is for generic makers to make their versions non-crushable, just like the newer name brand.

"I believe that the technology's out there to prevent this. I believe that in my heart," said Smoot.

"If we go back to the old, original OxyContin, we're going to see the same kind of death and destruction we saw a few years ago when OxyContin came out," said Rogers.