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With the patent for the original version of OxyContin set to expire in April, experts in Kentucky and around the country are concerned that cheaper generic versions of the drug will become available, which will be easier to abuse.

The Courier-Journal reports the currently sold version of OxyContin has been reformulated to make it more difficult to crush, so it cannot be readily snorted or injected. A generic version of the painkiller Opana was released this month by Impax Laboratories after Endo Pharmaceuticals’ patent expired, according to the newspaper. Endo had replaced the original version of Opana with a formulation that was more difficult to abuse. The generic version is crushable.

Endo and Purdue Pharma, which makes OxyContin, are trying to block generic drug makers’ efforts to product cheaper versions of the drugs. They argue these newer drugs will not have the tamper-resistant designs used in making the brand-name pills. Both companies support state and federal legislation that would require many opioids to be tamper-resistant.

The Generic Pharmaceutical Association opposes such a measure, arguing the vast majority of prescription painkillers are taken by legitimate pain patients. The group states the FDA has not defined what constitutes abuse-resistant medication, the article notes.

Kentucky Congressman Hal Rogers said he will once again pursue a bill that would require the Food and Drug Administration to deny applications for generic drugs that do not use abuse-resistant technologies. “If we go back to crushable, cheap, generic pills, the situation will only become much bleaker,” he told the newspaper.

“The thought of having (generic OxyContin) cheaper and crushable and on the market, readily available, terrifies us,” said Karen Kelly, Chief Executive Officer of the Eastern Kentucky anti-drug organization Operation UNITE. “We feel it’s another step backwards.”

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