Study links abuse-deterrent OxyContin with rise in hepatitis C infections
11 February 2019
According to a new study published in Health Affairs last week, Purdue Pharma’s switch to a new abuse-deterrent formulation of OxyContin in 2010 led to a rise in hepatitis C infections as addicts switched to injecting heroin.
While prior research has established the connection between the introduction of the abuse-deterrent formulation of OxyContin and a spike in heroin overdoses, the Health Affairs article, written by researchers from the Rand Corporation and the Wharton School, examined the relationship between the introduction of the reformulation and hepatitis C infection rates.
The researchers noted that while opioid overdoses and addiction steadily rose in the 2000s, the rate of hepatitis C infections declined or remained stagnant—until 2010, the year that the abuse-deterrent formulation of OxyContin became available. Hepatitis C infections began to steadily increase shortly afterwards.
The study drew on data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, to measure the nonmedical use of OxyContin in different US states, and then computed the rate of OxyContin misuse in each state before the reformulation.
The researchers then divided US states into two groups based upon whether they were above or below the median rates of Oxycontin misuse, and tested whether the growth rate of hepatitis C infections between the two groups differed, controlling for variables such as the unemployment rate and demographic composition.
Their results found that while OxyContin misuse declined…