Hydromorphone: In the news

Last modified: Sunday, 31. May 2009 - 4:25 pm

Hydromorphone has long been a highly used painkilling drug in the United States. It is more potent by weight than morphine, and this makes it an attractive treatment for those with intractable pain, such as terminal cancer patients. Abuse among those with legitimate medical needs is low, but there is evidence that abuse of hydromorphone on the street by opioid addicts is on the rise. Like OxyContin (oxycodone), though not to the same degree, hydromorphone is being diverted to the street for illicit purposes, primarily by pharmacists and physicians.
The markup street price of hydromorphone is significant though not as great as that of oxycodone. Typically, the drug sells for $6 to $8 for tablets ranging from 2 mg to 8 mg. While much of the illicit hydromorphone distribution channel can be blamed on criminal activity by pharmacists and physicians, there is a considerable amount of criminal behavior being committed by patients. One of the most common tactics used by addicts and those who are misappropriating opioid prescription drugs is to visit multiple doctors and attempt to obtain multiple prescriptions for a made-up condition. This is referred to as “doctor shopping.”
The fear of opioids falling into the wrong hands has prompted some pharmacies not to stock narcotic analgesics, and some hospitals have limited the use of opioids to cancer patients only. There have even been reports of patients keeping their prescriptions secret out of fear of having their pills stolen.

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