Ulric B. and Evelyn L. Bray Social Sciences Seminar
Abstract: In 2010 Purdue Pharma reformulated OxyContin to make it more difficult to abuse. OxyContin misuse fell dramatically, and heroin deaths rose. Previous research overlooked the use of generic oxycodone and argued that the reformulation induced OxyContin users to switch directly to heroin. Using a novel and fine-grained source of oxycodone sales from 2006-2014, we show that the reformulation led users to substitute from OxyContin to generic oxycodone, and the reformulation had no overall impact on opioid or heroin mortality. In addition, we showed generic oxycodone, instead of OxyContin, was the driving factor in the transition to heroin. These findings highlight the important role generic oxycodone played in the opioid epidemic and the limited effectiveness of a partial supply-side intervention.
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