As drug abuse has grown worse over the years, there have been numerous methods and strategies undertaken in attempts to address the issue. For some time, most of these were focused within the legal and punitive realms, resulting in harsh sentences for drug addict’s.
Although, times have changed quite a bit, and more proactive measures are being worked on, as it was realized that simply punishing those struggling with addiction did not have much success. Some of these efforts have involved reformulating certain drugs themselves or changing some of the ingredients. One of the recent motions in this direction has involved a dye being added into Oxycodone.
Why put dye into this new formulation of Oxycodone, you may ask? Well, the idea behind it is to identify individuals that are abusing the medication. This new version of Oxycodone is tentatively called Rexista. If an individual attempts to abuse the drug by crushing, snorting, or chewing it, a blue dye will be released. The blue dye would stain the individual’s mouth or nose, which is for the purpose of alerting family, friends, or healthcare professionals that the person is abusing their medication. The ideal also being that it would help to deter individuals from abusing it. Although, when the drug was run by a panel of experts with the Food and Drug Administration, it was quite heavily rejected with a vote of 22 to 1.
There are a few downsides to this blue dye that contributed to it being shot down by experts. First off, there were safety concerns arisen about the blue dye. In addition, they did not feel that it really made a convincing deterrent and felt that further studies upon the effectiveness in deterring abuse should be done. As a further downside, the panel said that the company had not displayed that those struggling with addiction would be deterred, being that they could just turn the medication into liquid and inject it.
In addition, some experts suggested that the blue dye would create a kind of status symbol, actually encouraging illicit use. “I can see Smurf parties and blue lollipops suddenly becoming very popular,” said Melinda Campopiano, MD, senior medical advisor, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
While the suggestion of “smurf parties” might be humorous, the problem that the blue dye is attempting to address is far from funny. It’s obvious that this idea will like never find it’s way into pharmacies. It misses the mark on several counts and simply does nothing to curb over prescription of opioids in the first place.
The real solution is not going to come in the form of a pill or a blue dye. The first step begins with education and advocacy about the dangers of overprescribing opioid’s. In addition, effective residential treatment programs designed not only to detox someone off the drug but address the underlying issues of addiction is a critical component to ending the opioid epidemic.