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MARKETPLACE:  Auto | Jobs | Personals | Yellow Pages  June 5, 2004
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OxyContin drug deals
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Pikeville, Kentucky-AP -- Even though it's not widely available legally, the generic form of the powerful painkiller OxyContin already is for sale on the black market in Appalachia.

Drug authorities in Eastern Kentucky say undercover narcotics investigators began purchasing the generic drug from street-level dealers earlier this week.

Investigators suspect a shipment of the generic form of the drug was stolen from a storage building.

When swallowed, OxyContin is a long-lasting narcotic considered important pain therapy for seriously ill patients. But the drug can produce a quick and potentially lethal high if it is chewed, snorted or injected.

It has been linked to more than 100 deaths and bears the government's strongest warning label.

Law enforcement officials have been dreading the release of the generic version, saying it could increase availability and reduce black market prices.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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