New OxyContin Pills Are Cheaper on the Street, but Good Luck Getting Them Up Your Nose

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Florida residents probably know there are plenty of ways to buy prescription OxyContin over a counter. But for those bent on acquiring pills in the most shady way possible, they're still available from street dealers. Those street pills are getting cheaper -- thanks to a new formulation that makes the pills harder to crush.

The new pills have been around for a few months now, part of an industry push to combat "abuse" of drugs, namely snorting, injecting, or other dopey means of ingestion. And it looks like they're working: Law enforcement officials are taking the lower street-price data as good news.

"As the pharmaceutical industry tries to engineer new drugs that are harder to crush, snort, or inject, the unregulated free market of diverted prescription drugs can reveal how effective these efforts are," said Nabarun Dasgupta, an organizer of a drug investigators' conference in Jacksonville this week.

The price per milligram of the new pills reportedly averages 56 cents, compared to the 78 cents you'll fork over per mil of the old, crushable stuff.

The data comes from streetrx.com, a crowdsourcing website established as part of the anti-abuse effort that encourages users to anonymously report the price of a drug.

Of course, feisty drug consumers will always innovate even faster than multinational pharmaceutical companies, and that's evidenced in Seattle Weekly's rundown of the top three jankiest ways to abuse the new pills. Microwaving them into a goopy mush seems to be a popular option.

Pain reliever abuse "increased more than fourfold between 1998 and 2008, from 2.2 to 9.8 percent."

Stefan Kamph is a New Times staff writer.
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