1 in 8 New Yorkers Is on Oxy [UPDATE]

UPDATE: As a commenter pointed out, the numbers presented were for prescriptions filled, not New Yorkers who received a prescription or were taking oxycodone at any given time. Also, due to the presence of the drug on the black market, many pills are taken out of state to be distributed illegally.

If you were wondering why 13 percent of the commuters on your subway car this morning were drooling and looking into space, the Wall Street Journal may have a clue: prescriptions for oxycodone, the generic name of the powerful pain pill OxyContin, have doubled in New York City between 2007 and 2010. More than one million New Yorkers (about one-eighth the population) were legally jammed to the gills in 2010.

While the city is spending $75 million annually on pot busts, citizens are getting their jollies on oxycodone pills, or as they are called on the street: OCs, blues, 40s, 80s, hillbilly heroin, kickers, and Toucan Slammers (the last one is ours):

In 2010, more than 1 million prescriptions for oxycodone -- the generic name for an opiate-based pain reliever commonly prescribed as OxyContin -- were filled in the five boroughs, Bridget Brennan, the city's special narcotics prosecutor, told the City Council's Public Safety Committee.

That equates to one prescription for every eight people in New York City, or 13 percent of the total population.

In 2007, half a million of these prescriptions were filled.

So what could the reason have been for nearly half a million New Yorkers deciding, "I need some synthetic heroin," between 2007 and 2010? We have some guesses:

  • Needed to convincingly produce the symptoms of swine flu
  • Had to cope with the disappointment of losing out on the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Martin Chalfie, Osamu Shimomura, and Roger Y. Tsien
  • It was prescribed for bulging disk suffered shortly after being drafted 6th overall by Isiaih Thomas
  • David Lee Roth called and wanted to give the tour one more shot

Oxy Usage Doubles in Three Years [WSJ]

[ngreene@villagevoice.com / @nickgreene]

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Meaningless, derogatory, simpleminded sensationalism. How about some actual facts that differentiate between the pain clinics that supply addicts, and doctors who prescribe pain medicine so their patients can function and contribute to society? Articles like this make life that much harder for people in serious pain from injuries, cancer, etc. Do you not know a single person who legitimately needs pain medication?


Why bother cleaning the streets of supposed drug addicts and dealers when the real drug addicts are the ones who talk a mean game but hopelessly give in behind closed doors.

Shouldn’t you make an appointment to see your local (dealer) doctor soon too?


Moshe Eshel
Moshe Eshel

I see a problem with the stats... 1 mil prescriptions does not equate 1 mil people... One person could get a lot more than one perception in a single year. the only interesting thing in the article is the rise over three years, and it could be attributed to many other factors besides new yorkers being drug addicts.


Yes, it could be attributed to a portion of the "patients" being drug DEALERS. After the senior execs and manufacturer of OxyContin were convicted and fined over $600 million in 2007, it is particularly amazing that it is not just business as usual in regards to OxyContin...it is business is booming!

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