Tamper proof medications have been introduced in recent years in an attempt to lower the rate of narcotic painkiller abuse, but is this strategy actually working? A new study has found that the tamper proof features of these drugs may be responsible for a decrease in both the number of prescriptions written for these drugs and the number of overdoses that are caused. In 2010 a new tamper resistant formulation was introduced for the drug Oxycontin. After the new tamper proof formulation was available on the market the number of prescriptions for the drug dropped by almost 20% across the USA. The heroin overdose rate for the same time jumped up 23% though. This could mean that individuals with an addiction are turning to street dealers for their fix rather than trying to get a prescription from a physician.
The study covering narcotic painkiller abuse and tamper proof medications showed that while prescriptions and overdose rates for prescription narcotics declines the increase with heroin and other similar drugs means that the overdose rate for narcotics overall did not go down any. Boston University School of Medicine instructor and lead study author Dr. Marc Larochelle explained “This is the first time in the last two decades that narcotic prescribing had dropped, rather than continued to increase. Some were skeptical that simply decreasing supply would lead to a decrease in overdoses, but we did find that. Reducing supply may have led some people who are abusing these drugs to substitute an illicit narcotic like heroin, and it may partially explain why we have seen an explosion in heroin use across the country.”