OxyContin is being smuggled into the United States from Canada, because the Canadian version of the drug is easier to abuse, according to The Globe and Mail.
The pills, which contain the opioid oxycodone, have been reformulated in the United States. The new tablets have been hardened to make it more difficult for them to be broken, chewed or crushed. When they are exposed to moisture or dissolved in water, they turn into a thick gel, which makes the drug difficult to snort or inject, the article notes. In Canada, the newer version of the drug will not be available until 2012.
James Burns, Assistant Special Agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration in New York, told the newspaper his agency has seen a jump in smuggling of the drug from Canada in the past year. “I’m talking about trafficking organizations that are bringing in a thousand pills or so at a time,” he said.
According to the article, Canadian OxyContin pills are being sold for as much as between $80 and $100 per pill in the United States. In Canada, a box of 60 pills can be bought with a prescription for about $300, or $5 per pill.