Oxycodone and its extended release version Oxycontin belong to the narcotic family of opioids. Closely related compounds include codeine and hydrocodone.
Extreme care must be exercised in prescribing oxycodone in combination with muscle relaxants, sleeping pills, anxiety medications and other pain relievers. Surprisingly even the antibiotics erythromycin and clarithromycin or the stomach acid reducer Tagamet generically available as cimetidine may increase the risk of unexpected overdose and death from respiratory arrest.
Adding oxycodone/oxycontin to illicit street foretells disaster.
Oxycodone was originally synthesized in 1916 in Germany. An interesting historical note, Adolf Hitler was apparently addicted to it among other substances by his personal physician. Most prescriptions for these drugs fail to meet current guidelines for correct use. Treatment for low back pain, fibromyalgia, shingles pain and diabetic neuropathy falls into the abuse category.
In addition to pain relief, the drugs lead to a sense of euphoria and relaxation associated with reduced anxiety.
Although the long acting form sold as Oxycontin has undergone multiple changes in attempts to reduce abuse, a major problem still exists. Improper use of prescription narcotics kills an estimated 30,000+ Americans each year with the number steadily rising.
Almost everyone taking these drugs suffers from dreadful constipation. Chronic use often leads to sleepiness, itching and weakness. Only slight excess may precipitate respiratory depression followed by respiratory arrest, shock and death with amazing rapidity.
Even a few pills can lead to addiction which causes profound difficulty with attempts to discontinue therapy. Withdrawal leads to an abstinence syndrome characterized by restlessness, anxiety, muscle and joint pain, weakness, chills and watery eyes.
Purdue Pharma, a private company that markets Oxycontin, appears in large measure responsible for the dreadful situation now facing our country. Their agents testified to the benign nature of the drug and its absence of addictive potential. Purdue is facing multiple lawsuits from municipalities and state governments. The company unabashedly plans to expand its product worldwide.