Injection and diversion of Oxycontin drops following introduction of tamper proof formula

April 2015
Degenhardt, L., Bruno, R., Ali, R., Lintzeris, N., Farrell, M., Larance, B. (2015). The introduction of a potentially abuse deterrent oxycodone formulation: Early findings from the Australian National Opioid Medications Abuse Deterrence (NOMAD) study. Drug and Alcohol Dependence DOI: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.02.038

The problem

There is increasing concern about tampering and diversion of pharmaceutical opioids. In April 2014 the manufacturers of OxcyContin introduced a reformulated abuse-deterrent sustained-release oxycodone formulation Reformulated OxyContin®. The Australian National Opioid Medications Abuse Deterrence (NOMAD) study was established to assess the impact of the reformulated product in reducing tampering and non-medical use.

What we did

Drawing from comprehensive data including pharmaceutical opioid sales and information about individual drug use patterns obtained through interviews with people who inject drugs regularly as well as data from the Sydney Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) and inner-Sydney needle-syringe programs, the NOMAD study compared non-medical use of the drug before and after the introduction of the Reformulated OxyContin®.


Sales of the most commonly diverted and injected 80mg dose decreased by 24% within two months of the introduction of Reformulated OxyContin®, pharmaceutical sales data showed. The use of OxyContin® among injecting drug users also declined notably. While an average of 62% of visits to MISC  were made to inject oxycodone in the months before the introduction of the new formulation, only 5% of visits were to inject the drug after Reformulated OxyContin® was introduced.


These data suggest that, in the short term, introduction of an abuse-deterrent formulation of OxyContin® in Australia was associated with a reduction in injection of OxyContin®, with no clear switch to other drugs. Reformulated OxyContin®, in this short follow-up, does not appear to be considered as attractive for tampering.