The British journal The Lancet Psychiatry published the results of a five-year study January 11, finding that the introduction of tamper-resistant oxycodone tablets has had a negligible effect on diminishing the rates of abuse. Rates of tampering with tablets among addicts who ingested drugs via injection were found to be low however.
The report's authors concluded that greater investment on non-medication interventions was needed to help alleviate the levels of abuse of medical opioid addiction.
"Although the introduction of this tamper-resistant formulation resulted in less injection of that opioid among people who inject drugs, their introduction must be considered as part of a multifaceted response. This includes increasing the availability of non-medication approaches to chronic pain, good clinical practice in long-term opioid treatment, and harm reduction among people who use opioids outside the recommendations of their prescriber," said Dr Briony Larance of Australia's National Drug and Alcohol Research Center who worked on the report.
Fieldwork for the study was conducted in Australia and the United States, both first world countries grappling with damaging levels of opioid addiction. In the US, the crisis is particularly acute among white Americans who are poor or working class and Native Americans. Rates of addiction are also significantly higher in more rural areas and in states hit hard by the 2008 Financial Crisis, such as the so-called 'Rust Belt' states of Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Australia whose drug crisis is similar to but not as extreme as the United States has significantly worsened in recent years. The country's National Drug and Research Center estimated in 2017 that 800 Australians die every year by overdosing on prescription medication.