OxyContin is regulated as a controlled substance with the same addictive potential as morphine. It is intended for use by terminal cancer patients and chronic pain sufferers, but has been linked to at least 120 overdose deaths nationwide.
Purdue Pharma L.P., based in Stamford, Connecticut, said in a statement that its international patent application for a pharmaceutical formulation that combines an opiate pain reliever with a compound that blocks its effect will be published soon.
"Crushing the tablet to defeat its time-release properties also releases the antagonist, which blocks the effects of the opioid (opiate). Abusers will not experience euphoria and may experience the uncomfortable effects of withdrawal," explained Dr. Paul Goldenheim, Purdue Pharma's executive vice president, worldwide research and development.
When the pill is swallowed whole, the antagonist should pass through the gastrointestinal system of a patient with only minimal release, he said.
The company, which co-promotes OxyContin with Abbott Laboratories Inc., said it plans to begin clinical trials of the new formulation early next year.
In June, a multibillion-dollar lawsuit was filed against the companies and two doctors for allegedly failing to warn patients that the drug is dangerously addictive.
The company said on Wednesday that the research to develop an abuse-resistant pill is part of its 10-point plan, which includes educational efforts, to reduce prescription drug abuse.
"SMILE............It confuses people!"