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Effects and Dangers of Oxycontin

             He hasn't slept in two days, and his hands were trembling. Everyone on the street was staring as he walked toward the pharmacy. His face was as pale as a ghost as he carried a long bundle with a blanket loosely wrapped around it. As the pharmacy door opened, the blanket was quickly drawn away exposing the long black assault riffle he had stolen in the weeks passed. He wasn't after the money in the cash register, though, but something far more important to him, OxyContin.
             OxyContin is oxycodone hydrochloride with a controlled release coating. It is classified as an opioid analgesic and comes in 10, 20, 40, and 80mg strengths ("OxyContin,"" 2537). It was approved for use in May 1996 (McGillvray) and is a schedule II controlled substance ("OxyContin,"" 2540). Oxycodone is a white crystalline power that is derived from the opium alkaloid, thebaine ("OxyContin,"" 2537). Also it is a semi-synthetic narcotic with multiple actions qualitatively similar to those of morphine ("Oxyfast,"" 2541). The strength of the tablet describes the amount of oxycodone per tablet as hydrochloride salt ("OxyContin,"" 2537). OxyContin's chemical formula is 5-epoxy-14-hydroxy-3-methoxy-17-methylmorphinan-6-one-hydrochloride ("OxyContin,"" 2537). When prescribed, the patient is told not to take broken or crushed tablets because of the risk of overdose, report any adverse effects, protect the medicine from theft, and don't drive because it impairs mental and physical abilities ("OxyContin,"" 2539).
             OxyContin is prescribed legally for the pain of terminally ill cancer patients and for some other chronic diseases (McGillvray). They are intended for patients who require oral pain therapy with an opioid agonist for more than a few days duration ("OxyContin,"" 2538). "Based on my experience, opioids are more effective than any single class of drugs for chronic pain,"" said John Hopkins neurosurgeon, James Campbell (Hendricks).

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