Generic OxyContin Hits Black Market

Although not yet available in pharmacies, the generic version of OxyContin is already being sold on the black market, the Associated Press reported May 24.

According to Dan Smoot, chief detective for Operation UNITE, an anti-drug task force in Eastern Kentucky, undercover narcotics investigators were able to purchase the generic version of the powerful painkiller this month from street-level dealers.

“It’s incredible,” Smoot said. “When we first got the pills, we didn’t know what they were. They look nothing like the OxyContin we were familiar with.”

Since the Food and Drug Administration gave its approval for Teva Pharmaceuticals of North Wales, Pa., and Endo Pharmaceuticals of Chadds Ford, Pa., to sell generic versions of OxyContin, law-enforcement officials have been preparing for problems.

“We knew when the FDA approved generic OxyContin that it would end up in the region. But we didn’t think it would be here before the pharmacies got it,” said Karen Engle, executive director of Operation UNITE.

Authorities are concerned that the generic versions would increase availability and lower prices of the drug on the black market. Engle said undercover agents purchased the generic drugs at about $20 less than OxyContin. She expects the price to drop further once the generic brands reach pharmacies.

“We’re bracing for it,” Engle said. “We’re hoping we’re not hit as hard with the generic brands as we were with OxyContin. With this generic, cheaper form, it scares us. We’re tremendously concerned about what could happen here.”