US painkiller restriction linked to ‘significant’ increase in illicit online drug trading
Thursday 14 June 2018
- Regulations introduced in 2014 made it harder to obtain hydrocodone combination products from medical professionals in the US
- Illicit trading of these prescription drugs increased by around 4 percentage points a year
- No significant change to trading of other drugs such as Diazepam and Xanax observed
So A new study led by Swinburne shows trading of prescription opioids through the darknet has increased in the wake of tighter regulation by the US government for this category of legal pharmaceutical products prescribed by doctors.
So In the study published by The BMJ and conducted by Swinburne, University of Kent, Université de Montréal and University of Manchester, researchers analysed the effects of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) 2014 restriction in how hydrocodone combination products (HCP) were prescribed by doctors.
“Hydrocodone was the most popularly prescribed opioid painkiller in the United States, and its use, along with oxycodone, has been implicated as one of the major drivers of the US opioid crisis,” says lead researcher at Swinburne, So Associate Professor in Criminology, Dr James Martin.
“In order to combat misuse, in October 2014, the DEA moved painkillers containing hydrocodone from Schedule III to the more restrictive Schedule II category, making the drug significantly harder to obtain from medical professionals.”
An increase in illicit trading
Professor Judith Aldridge from the University of Manchester says, “While these changes have been show to reduce the available supply of these medications through legitimate channels, what is less well understand is whether users may seek out illicit supplies via illegal markets in response.”
“If Our study used data obtained from 31 of the world’s largest so-called ‘darknet’ drug markets.
Furthermore We were therefore able to identify some of the unanticipated.
consequences of restricting drug supplies in a context of high consumer demand.
” says Dr Jack Cunliffe, Lecturer at the University of Kent.