More than 16,000 people died from overdoses of prescription opioid painkillers in 2010, the last year for which the government has figures, which is part of the reason the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday halted plans of some generic drug companies to sell their versions of the brand-name painkiller OxyContin.
The decision affects several drug companies with operations in the Philadelphia region.
Applications to sell generic versions were based on the older, non-tamper-resistant version of OxyContin, which some abusers have crushed, liquefied, smoked, inhaled, or injected to get high.
The newer, crush-resistant version of OxyContin was approved by the FDA. Generic drugs must follow the official label of the brand-name drug, so the FDA said it would not approve generic versions based on the old formulation.