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OxyContin Diversion and Abuse
January 2001

Sentencing and Legislation

Oxycodone, including OxyContin, are Schedule II drugs under the Federal Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act. Federal sentencing guidelines for diverted Schedule II pharmaceuticals are determined by the total weight of the tablets, not strength. Similar drugs of lower strength like Percocet and Tylox may weigh more than OxyContin, thus distributing the same quantities may result in stiffer penalties than for distributing OxyContin.

Authorities in Maine, in conjunction with the U.S. Government, launched a new initiative in 2000 regarding OxyContin abuse. The Maine Attorney General's Office has proposed legislation seeking to make possession of a large number of OxyContin tablets a felony; such possession is currently a misdemeanor.



Continued increases in the diversion and abuse of OxyContin are likely. Reliable strength, potential prescription cost coverage, and significant profit potential make OxyContin attractive to both illicit distributors and abusers. Authorities have recognized the increasing problems associated with diversion of the drug. Law enforcement officials, physicians, pharmacists, and representatives of Purdue Pharma L.P. are working together to find methods to limit diversion and abuse. Legislative initiatives are also being drafted to make OxyContin distribution less appealing by creating more stringent penalties. 


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