Editor’s Note: The research and determination of this Fact Check have been corrected. Please see the new post for a full explanation. We regret the error.

Image: trueStatement: “We’re seeing more and more teenagers using OxyContin and dying from OxyContin,” District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said at a panel discussion with other local law enforcement leaders Tuesday.

Determination: True

Analysis: OxyContin is one brand name for the powerful opiate drug called oxycodone. It’s mainly prescribed to cancer patients or others hoping to relieve severe pain over a long period of time.

In more recent years, though, the recreational abuse of OxyContin has started taking a toll on San Diego County. People started robbing pharmacies, specifically demanding the stock of OxyContin, and more young adults started ending up in the morgue from overdose.

Shortly after San Diego area law enforcement announced forming an OxyContin Task Force last fall, we checked out the statistics.

The county medical examiner reported 17 oxycodone-related deaths between 2004 and 2006, and at least 54 deaths between 2008 and 2009. Some have questioned whether that uptick is the result of additional testing, but Dr. Jon Lucas said the office’s practices were consistent through that period. Since 2007, only alcohol and heroin have contributed to more deaths than oxycodone for people between the ages of 16 and 25.

So far, local law enforcements’ response has focused on increased media campaigns, additional prosecutions and reducing the pool of prescription drugs accessible to teens. Along those lines, the county Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance Tuesday that will put drop off bins for prescription drug disposal at numerous law enforcement facilities across the region.

Because the statistical and anecdotal evidence has shown more teenagers are using and dying from OxyContin than previous years, we’re calling Dumanis’ statement true.

If you disagree with our determination or analysis, please express your thoughts in the comments section of this blog post. Explain your reasoning.

You can also e-mail new Fact Check suggestions to factcheck@voiceofsandiego.org. What claim should we explore next?


Summer Polacek

Summer Polacek was formerly the Development Manager at Voice of San Diego.

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