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: