Cryptomarket opioid sales increased after DEA tightened prescribing regulations

The U.S. experienced an increase in illicit opioid sales via crypromarkets after the Drug Enforcement Administration released a stricter opioid prescribing regulation in 2014, according to research published June 13 in The BMJ.

Five things to know:

1. The DEA tightened prescribing regulations surrounding hydrocodone combination products in October 2014, thereby decreasing patients' access to the medications.

2. To assess this regulatory change's effect on opioid cryptomarket sales, researchers analyzed data from 31 different cryptomarkets operating between September 2013 and July 2016.

3. Researchers found sales of opioids through illicit U.S. marketplaces, which operate similar to an eBay interface, represented 13.7 percent of all drug sales in July 2016. If the DEA had not tightened regulations in 2014, researchers estimated cryptomarket exchanges would have accounted for just 6.7 percent of total U.S. sales.

4.Statistically, individuals purchasing opioids through these channels are bought buying more potent variations of prescription grade opioids.

5.The regulation  also changed individuals' purchasing behavior, according to the study authors.

"Fentanyl was the least purchased product during July to September 2014, and by July 2016 it was the second most frequently purchased drug," they wrote.

More articles on opioids:

Kentucky sues Walgreens over 'alarming' opioid dispense rate
Study: New York physicians received $3.5M from opioid makers between 2013-15
Viewpoint: The one step Trump should take to ease the opioid epidemic

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