Authors: Cassidy, T. A.; DasMahapatra, P.; Black, R. A.; Wieman, M. S.; Butler, S. F.

Pain Medicine, 15: 440–451. doi:10.1111/pme.12295, 2014


The reformulation of oxycodone hydrochloride controlled-release (CR) tablets in August 2010 created a natural experiment at a national scale, providing an opportunity to evaluate patterns of abuse of prescription opioids and other drugs before and after introduction of this abuse-deterrent formulation (ADF).


Observational, cross-sectional study


Sentinel sample of adults assessed for substance abuse treatment within the NAVIPPRO®surveillance system


Two hundred thirty-two thousand and eight hundred seventy-four adults at 437 facilities during January 1, 2008 through December 31, 2011.


Time-series analysis using logistic regression to estimate quarterly prevalence of past 30-day abuse (adjusted for covariates and prescription volume) and changes in abuse pre-and post-ADF introduction.


Increases in abuse prevalence occurred for all prescription opioids as a class and for extended-release (ER) opioids. Significantly greater abuse of ER oxymorphone and buprenorphine occurred in the post-ADF period (relative risk [RR] = 2.91, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.59–3.27 and RR = 1.85, 95% CI = 1.74–1.96). Increases in abuse for these two compounds were significant among groups who reported abuse via preferential routes of administration (oral only, snorting only, injection only) post-ADF introduction.


Replacement of a widely prescribed opioid formulation known for its abuse potential alone may have had little impact on overall rates of prescription opioids as a class. However, changes in abuse levels of certain opioids coinciding with ADF introduction suggest possible switching of abuse among this study sample to specific long-acting opioid analgesics. Additional follow-up studies will be important to monitor changing abuse patterns and their public health impact as new opioid formulations are developed and introduced to market.