Most law-enforcement officials, drughead dilettantes and white trash know by now about OxyContin, the powerful synthetic opiate tablet that, when crushed and snorted, leads to a powerful heroin-like high that hits harder than a freight train.

Its plutonium-strength potency, coupled with the ease with which any dimwit can sidestep its time-release features (SMASH. "Hey, Jethro, let's snort this here powder!") means that a cursory glance of any month's worth of newspapers will turn up at least two or three cases of addled teenagers and backwoods mouth-breathers keeling over. Such stories are legion, and any recreational drug user who messes around with the stuff and turns blue is just proving Darwin right.

Less well-known, however, is Oxy's even-more-powerful sister, MS Contin - Purdue Pharma's brand name for sustained-release morphine sulfate. MS, of course, stands for "morphine sulfate," while Contin means "continuous release," like in OxyContin (where the Oxy stands for "oxycodone." Make sense?)

MS Contin is manufactured in 15, 30, 60, 100 and - brace yourself - 200mg tablets, each approximately the diameter of a pencil eraser (Except the 200mg "Keith Richards Special;" see http://www.healthsquare.com/newrx/msc1277.htm for photographs). In a nutshell, it's more effective for pain relief, but it's even more dangerous than Oxy when abused.

Since it pretty much happens to be pure morphine (except for the binder and time-release stuff in the tablet), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency considers it a Schedule II narcotic, meaning it has a high potential for abuse.

This is what the DEA has to say about it:
Morphine is the principal constituent of opium and can range in concentration from 4 to 21 percent. Commercial opium is standardized to contain 10-percent morphine. In the United States, a small percentage of the morphine obtained from opium is used directly (about 15 tons): the remaining is converted to codeine and other derivatives (about 120 tons). Morphine is one of the most effective drugs known for the relief of severe pain and remains the standard against which new analgesics are measured. Like most narcotics, the use of morphine has increased significantly in recent years. Since 1990, there has been about a three-fold increase in morphine products in the United States.

Morphine is marketed under generic and brand name products including "MS-Contin®," Oramorph SR®," MSIR®," Roxanol®," Kadian®," and RMS®." Morphine is used parenterally (by injection) for preoperative sedation, as a supplement to anesthesia, and for analgesia. It is the drug of choice for relieving pain of myocardial infarction and for its cardiovascular effects in the treatment of acute pulmonary edema. Traditionally; morphine was almost exclusively used by injection. Today, morphine is marketed in a variety of forms, including oral solutions, immediate and sustained-release tablets and capsules, suppositories, and injectable preparations. In addition, the availability of high-concentration morphine preparations (i.e., 20-mg/ml oral solutions, 25-mg/ml injectable solutions, and 200-mg sustained-release tablets) partially reflects the use of this substance for chronic pain management in opiate-tolerant patients.


Cf. Dilaudid

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