Local News

Chronic Pain Sufferers Worried About OxyContin Misuse

Posted February 11, 2002 8:35 a.m. EST

— More and more people are abusing the drug OxyContin, stealing it to get high.

Some people have died from using it and others have been put behind bars. Doctors are also getting into trouble for carelessly prescribing it.

OxyContin is the brand name for oxycodone. On the street it is known as "the poor man's heroin," "hillbilly heroin" or "OC."

Its misuse is of great concern to many people who rely on the drug to live normal lives.

OxyContin is a powerful drug intended to help ease severe, chronic pain. A Franklin County woman who uses the drug to treat a painful condition says it affords her a better quality of life.

"There's been many times that the pain was so severe I couldn't talk I couldn't walk," says patient Jane Procacci.

Procacci suffers from a rare bladder disorder called interstitial cystitis. It has crippled her body and her everyday life. She was bedridden for year, unable to move because of the pain. That all changed when her doctor prescribed a new pain medication called OxyContin.

"I guess the best way to put it is I'm feeling some relief, not complete relief. I am feeling some relief where I can get out of bed I can sit on the swing," says Procacci.

Procacci worries that the simple pleasures that she does enjoy will be short-lived. Since so many people abuse OxyContin, she is concerned the government may take the drug away.

"It's going to make it bad for us because if they continue to abuse drugs like OxyContin, the FDA may end up pulling it off the market," she says. "Which means my sons are going to lose their mother again because my other options for pain relief are few and far between."

Procacci says that she hopes that will never happen, and wants those who abuse OxyContin to know what they are doing to people like her.

"For those that need the medication, don't ruin it for us because this if the one thing that really does help us," she says.

Purdue Pharma

, the maker of OxyContin, has created a new formulation of the drug. It contains an antidote so that if someone chews or inhales the drug, it would nullify the high. When swallowed whole as prescribed, it would still have a powerful effect on pain.

The company says the new formula is virtually abuse-proof, but it will be at least three years before it will be approved for use.