Nassau County Executive: Abuse Of Painkiller Opana Is Growing

Docs: It's Replacing OxyContin And Is Twice As Powerful

MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that prescription narcotics killed more people in 2010 than cocaine and heroin combined.

As a result, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano issued a public health alert Monday on the increasing usage of the painkiller Opana — generically known as Oxymorphone.

The drug is a morphine-like opioid prescribed to manage moderate to severe pain around-the-clock. It comes in different colors and has different street names. Nassau County is seeing signs of abuse, but most parents have never heard of it, reports CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.

“Opana threatens to become our next OxyContin,” said Dr. Jeff Reynolds of the Long Island Council Alcohol and Drug Dependence.

Opana Packs Quite The Punch. 1010 WINS’ Kathleen Maloney Reports.

Last October, Mangano issued a warning about the rapid rise of OxyContin, but Nassau County said it knows Opana is growing in popularity, because it’s been able to track Medicaid prescriptions through local pharmacies. Over the past six months, Oxycontin prescriptions have dropped 43 percent, while Opana prescriptions have soared 45 percent.

“While there has been a significant decrease in OxyContin Medicaid prescriptions since last fall, prescription narcotics in general have continued to rise and OxyContin is now being replaced by another narcotic – Opana,” Mangano said.

Opana is twice as potent as OxyContin and cheaper. Prices start at $1 per milligram.

Last month, Nassau County Police issued a bulletin alerting officers to the abuse of the drug. After the coating is removed, the pill is usually crushed and snorted.

“It’s extended release, so if you grind it up and snort it you get it all in one fell swoop,” Dr. Reynolds said.

An Opana overdose is characterized by respiratory depression, stupor or coma, cold and clammy skin, constricted pupils, muscle flaccidity, cardiac arrest and death.

In a county struggling with an epidemic of prescription pill abuse, Opana abuse is one more thing for parents to discuss with their kids.

“They think that, you know, because it came from a doctor it’s okay. They don’t know it really has a lot of side effects to it,” Hempstead student Ashley Ormon said.

Cops say parents need to police the medicine chest, while they police the streets.

Two months ago, police in Newport, Tenn. said Opana was responsible for five fatal overdoses over three months. In Louisville, Kentucky the drug has been linked to nine overdose deaths.

How do you think officials can curb the abuse of prescription drugs? Sound off below

More from Tony Aiello
  • Mark

    Look, prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing epidemic in the country. However, the fact is that 70% of all prescription drug abuse starts at the home medicine cabinet. Why? because parents and guardians are NOT being responsible because they DO NOT lock up their medications. The fact is that 98% of househoolds do not lock up their medications. Its a simple solution that prevents access to drugs. As a professional, I recommend the Rx DrugSAFE to prevent drug abuse.

  • Joe

    also as a chronic pain patient, who also increases my quality of life by pain medication, I hate seeing other people abuse it, as it brings a stigma to those of us who need schedule II drugs, and use them for the right reasons.

    • Tracy

      Most chronic pain sufferers are not abusing their drugs but they become the unsuspecting victims of recreational users, frequently teenagers, looking for a quick high. Mark is correct…the majority of the drugs that fall into the hands of teenagers are stolen from the medicine cabinets of friends and family members. Definitely check out – this product provides a really simple, secure solution to lock up medications for people who still need to access their meds conveniently and quickly

  • bob

    in my opinion,as a chronic pain patient NOT prescribed opana,opana and any other drug can give a person whoes quality of life in next to none,it can give them their life back. i think that id someone is Rx’d opana or any schedule 2 drug for that matter,the key is monitoring such as one vist per month min(no refills)to get their meds,dug testing,random pill counts etc.opana is a serious medication who should only be rx’d to chronic pain patients who need “around the clock” relief. i hope they can nip this in the bud b/c i would hate to see it become the next “oxycontin” so to speak

    • Kelly

      Bob i completely agree.; Most dr’s that prescribe this do all those steps. they don’t give refills. you must check in with the dr every month and i know for myself personally my dr does random drug testing. they don’t do pill counts but i have a certain amount i get every month period. My opana is Extended release so it works in a 12 hr cycle. i don’t want anyone to abuse this med. it makes me angry when people abuse pain meds because it makes it harder for the law abiding patients to get the meds they need. i pray your pain is being helped by meds. like i said to the other please feel free to e-mail me at also check out the chat for people with chronic pain. go under chat and come on into the fibro room. we talk about all sorts of pain issues.

  • John

    I’m with Kelly, I am a legal user with Chronic Back pain. If it weren’t for Opana I wouldn’t be able to function. I wouldn’t wish the pain I have every day on my worst enemy. I too know many people that use prescription drugs recreationaly. They should know better than to abuse these medications. But I have to be honest, I would rather them abuse the pills than Heroin. Addicts are not going to just stop using. Some countries deal with their addicts by providing them the controlled substances and they don’t have many of the issues we have. Like people that rob their families, steal from local stores, or kill people for money.

    • Kelly

      John I am so sorry you are in such bad chronic back pain. I know how much it sucks. I hope that the opana is helping your back pain. please feel free to email me anytime. i’d love to chat. Also there is a great chat site if you want it. the addy is and go under chat. you create a name and you can chat with people in pain from all over the world. check it out.

  • Robert

    This is the drug that my friend took and it killed him, dead, gone, two little girls a wife, gone, forever. Please, please reformat this drug and put the antagonist in it, he snorted it and it killed him. Maybe if it was “cut”, he would still be here.

  • Nick

    “Opana was RESPONSIBLE for 5 fatalities…”

    Typical lib. t. ard. media. The inanimate object is RESPONSIBLE. Never the re. t. ard. using it.

    Make Opana an over the counter drug. The more idiots we kill off, the sooner they die off, the better off society is.

    • Ben

      You said it Nick,I couldn’t agree more.Pills don’t kill people,it’s the idiots taking them killing themselves lmao thus making my world a better place.



    • Kelly

      Pike i pray you never have to deal with my pain or John’s pain. Your comment is pathetic because you are simply ignorant on chronic pain and how devastating the effects are on people’s lives. I take my meds as prescribed and I do drive and have never had an accident or so much as a ticket ever while being on this med so right there I prove you are completely wrong and ignorant on the medication and how chronic pain works. i pray for you and your ignorance(hoping you will learn more on the subject) and also pray that you never have to deal with the kind of pain i am in. Please anyone in true chronic pain ignore this person because he is misinformed. People in bad chronic pain are not using the meds because they can’t deal with life it is the exact opposite. we are using the medications so we can live our lives and have a better quality of life. Don’t ever listen to anyone who would call you pathetic if they have never walked a mile in your shoes. These medications are out there to help people(and not to escape as you suggest pike).

      • Ben

        “chronic pain” yeah right its all in your head and you only want meds to make your pathetic life feel better because of the high they give you,let me guess your prob overweight and your fat belly put extra strain on your back and you call it “chronic pain” get real

    • Kelly

      Ben wrong again!!! I have fibromyalgia,neuropathy among other issues. I am never high. It’s amazing how completely ignorant you are. You couldn’t handle my pain. If i could snap my fingers i would give you 30 minutes ofmy pain and you would be running home to your mommies. I am officially disabled medically so next time maybe you will learn if you can’t say something nice then don’t say anything at all. When you take you pain meds as they are prescribed you don’t ever get high. All it does is help relieve the pain and give me a better quality of life such as it is. Ask anyone if they enjoy being in pain and taking meds i guarantee all would give back the pills if there was a magic wand that took the pain and problems away. You are pathetic and ignorant Ben. I feel sorry for your small little brain that can’t comprehend the idea that there is real people out there truly hurting like myself and others here posting. get some facts and education on pain and chronic Illnesses/ who knows maybe you will learn something useful and grow some compassion in that tiny heart nad mind of yours.

  • Mark

    Pharmacist in CT
    Opana may have to reformulate the tablet like Oxycontin did. Incorporate a narcotic antagonist in the tablet so if it is crushed, no high

  • Kelly in CT

    I agree with Pat that parents need to watch their kids and inform them. I am coming from another perspective because I actually take OpanaER for my fibromyalgia pain. I disagree with pat about quit prescribing. If you live in pain every single day of your life you would feel differently. This medication does alot of good for people who are in chronic pain whether due to illness or a specific medical issue. I might also add that they should take into consideration that more people are being diagnosed with fibro and other illnesses. I wouldn’t be able to function and do what little i can do without the medication. I would be bedridden. My biggest worry is that the innocent victims or actual people who are sick and need the medicine will be penalized. I am all for locking up the people who abuse the drug. I pray no one ever has to go through the pain i live with. Get the abusers and protect the innocent law abiding patients and doctors. I fear doctors will be hesitant to prescribe when someone really needs it and that person will be penalized for someone just looking for a high. Pat I truly hope you never have to walk a mile in my shoes. I pray people with your opinion will read this post and understand that pain is no small matter. it is crippling and debilitating. Dr’s don’t just hand this out like candy. this is for people in severe and acute pain. I hope others will read this and think about those who are suffering in pain. Thank you for reading my post.

  • Pat

    Parents need to pay attention to what is going on in
    their own homes.
    Be a parent to your kids not a pal.
    Not to mention why doesn’t medicaid stop paying /allowing
    the drug to be covered?
    Also why don’t doctors quit prescribing the drug?

    • JP

      Pat, as a person with chronic pain I can tell you that you are plain wrong. I sure hope you never find yourself in my shoes; your tone would change rather quickly then. I guess the American mindset of intruding into others personal business still persists. Walk a mile in my shoes, because you are clearly clueless.

      • Kelly

        JP please don;t think all americans are this small minded. there are alot of americans that agree with you, I am one of them. I am on opanaER for my fibromyalgia and other chronic pain i suffer from. i agree with the walk a mile in my shoes. i pray no one has to deal with this. I think most would go running home screaming for their mommies. Anyone that deals with chronic pain is a strong person who never gives up. i pray your pain is under control or alot better. please feel free to e-mail me at Also like John please check out and go under chat and come in and chat with us in the fibro room. we have all sorts of people with different pain issues.

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