A decade ago the prescription painkiller OxyContin had a reformulation done. That means its formula was altered. Research seems to the point that it is related to the rising tide of Hepatitis C in the following years.
There was a study published in the journal Health Affairs. It races the opioid epidemic to the introduction of OxyContin.
The manufacturer of the drug reformulated it in 2010. This was in hopes to combat the rising crisis. They wanted the pills to be more difficult to use. This meant they weren’t as easy to crush or dissolve.
This may have done what it was intended. The prescription opioid misuse went down by a noticeable number. But this meant that addicts went for other drugs instead. They turned to heroin which was cheaper and easier to get. This was infinitely more dangerous.
Hepatitis C infections went up almost triple from 2010 to 2015 according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Hepatitis C is a virus that is blood borne. It causes severe liver damage. It is commonly spread between heroin users who share and reuse syringes.
The CDC says that hepatitis C leads to 146,700 deaths between 2010 and 2017. This is with the deaths probably being underreported.
Even though it seems good that prescription opioid use is going down it isn’t always. People will always seem to find a way to get to drugs to get their high. Even if it is even more dangerous than what they previously used.
More than just the formulation change probably affected these rates. Other things happened like limits to make prescriptions opioids less available. Or more heroin coming through from Mexico.
But because of the increase of infection, it leaves the OxyContin reformulation most likely to be the cause of the change.