FILE - In this Aug. 17, 2018 file photo, Christine Gagnon, of Southington, Conn., holds a sign during a protest with others who have lost loved ones to OxyContin and opioid overdoses, outside the Purdue Pharma headquarters in Stamford, Conn. Gagnon lost her son Michael 13 months earlier. Nearly ten years ago, the blockbuster painkiller OxyContin was reformulated to discourage abuse by snorting and injecting, but it's unclear whether the harder-to-abuse format has decreased cases of addiction, overdose and death. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

Revamped OxyContin was supposed to reduce abuse, but has it?

July 22, 2019 - 10:37 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly a decade ago, the maker of OxyContin responded to a growing wave of opioid abuse by making the painkiller harder to snort and inject. But has that reformulation translated into fewer drug overdoses and deaths?

It's a question that experts like Dr. Raeford Brown of the University of Kentucky are eager to answer. For years, Brown led a government advisory panel that evaluates opioids for the Food and Drug Administration.

There's just one problem: Neither the company that the makes OxyContin nor the FDA have allowed the experts to see data on gathered to answer the question.

Brown and others say the lack of data makes it nearly impossible to tell whether OxyContin and similar painkillers are actually helping fight the opioid crisis.

The Stamford, Connecticut-based company says it's still working on the studies.