ROANOKE, Va. (AP) - A future version of the prescription painkiller OxyContin may include a ``narcotic antagonist'' that would destroy its narcotic effects if the pill is crushed for a quick, heroin-like high.
The new formulation has yet to be named and would not be available for at least three years, officials with drugmaker Purdue Pharma LP of Stamford, Conn., said Wednesday.
Purdue spokesman Jim Heins said the drug could become an alternative to the company's top-selling painkiller in areas where the drug is being abused.
OxyContin is a slow-release narcotic painkiller that is widely prescribed for victims of moderate to severe chronic pain. One pill is designed to last 12 hours, but crushed and snorted or injected it can produce a quick high.
The drug has been blamed for contributing to more than 100 deaths nationwide. Purdue says that in many of those cases the victims were abusing other drugs at the same time.
The new version of the painkiller would be embedded with microscopic ``beads'' of naltrexone, a narcotic antagonist that counteracts the medicine. The beads would be coated with a chemical to keep them from dissolving if the pills are taken as directed.
If the Food and Drug Administration (