OxyContin® is a prescription painkiller used for moderate to high pain relief associated with injuries, bursitis, dislocations, fractures, neuralgia, arthritis, lower back pain, and pain associated with cancer. OxyContin® contains oxycodone, the medication's active ingredient, in a timed-release tablet. Oxycodone products have been illicitly abused for the past 30 years.
Oxycodone is a Schedule II narcotic analgesic and is widely used in clinical medicine. It is marketed either alone as controlled release (OxyContin®) and immediate release formulations (OxyIR®, OxyFast®), or in combination with other nonnarcotic analgesics such as aspirin (Percodan®) or acetaminophen (Percocet®). The introduction in 1996 of OxyContin®, commonly known on the street as OC, OX, Oxy, Oxycotton, Hillbilly heroin, and kicker, led to a marked escalation of its abuse as reported by drug abuse treatment centers, law enforcement personnel, and health care professionals. Although the diversion and abuse of OxyContin® appeared initially in the eastern US, it has now spread to the western US including Alaska and Hawaii. Oxycodone-related adverse health effects increased markedly in recent years. In 2004, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved for marketing generic forms of controlled release oxycodone products.
In 2003, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh became addicted to the drug after back surgery. He was subsequently named by law enforcement officials in Palm Beach, Florida as a potential buyer connected with the investigation of an illegal narcotics ring. Limbaugh admitted his addiction, declaring that he was "not making excuses" and that he was "no role model." He soon sought treatment, successfully.