"There are several factors that may have contributed to the abuse and diversion of OxyContin. OxyContin's formulation as a controlled- release opioid that is twice as potent as morphine may have made it an attractive target for abuse and diversion. In addition, the original label’s safety warning advising patients not to crush the tablets because of the possible rapid release of a potentially toxic amount of oxycodone may have inadvertently alerted abusers to possible methods for misuse. Further, the rapid growth in OxyContin sales increased the drug's availability in the marketplace and may have contributed to opportunities to obtain the drug illicitly. The history of abuse and diversion of prescription drugs in some geographic areas, such as those within the Appalachian region, may have predisposed some states to problems with OxyContin. However, we could not assess the relationship between the growth in OxyContin prescriptions or increased availability with the drug's abuse and diversion because the data on abuse and diversion are not reliable, comprehensive, or timely."


General Accounting Office, "Prescription Drugs: Oxycontin Abuse and Diversion and Efforts to Address the Problem," GAO-04-110 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, December 2003), p. 29.