Tuesday, December 5, 2023


An article in Reason looks at a reformulation of the prescription drug OxyContin. The maker’s intent was reducing abuse, by making it harder to crush and thus difficult to snort or inject. Hat tip to RealClearPolicy for the link.

The article tries to blame the makers for a subsequent boost in deaths due to substitution of street drugs often laced with fentanyl. The blame is wrongly placed.

Au contraire, it worked exactly as intended. It is not the fault of the maker of OxyContin that those who abused its earlier form switched to less safe street drugs when Oxy became either inconvenient or impossible to abuse. Going forward, fewer will abuse OxyContin and that is good.

The blame referred to above is ours. As a society we’ve chosen to let the addicted self-medicate using street drugs while living rough on the street. Many either were mentally ill or become so. We once chose otherwise when we incarcerated and treated addicts and the insane.

No matter, it was a policy choice and we’ve “written them off,” decided to ignore them. It is cheaper than the alternative, but much less aesthetic and hygienic. 

The implicit societal message, “You’ve opted to commit suicide, slowly. It’s your choice.” Viewed that way, fentanyl simply makes the process more efficient.

It’s hard to believe I wrote that last paragraph; our society is sick.