Tuesday, February 13, 2001

Tenn. woman might be first OxyContin victim




By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The death of a 29-year-old woman over the weekend may have been the first in the Tristate caused by an overdose of OxyContin, a prescription pain-killer that is being increasingly abused, authorities said Monday.

        Beth Ann Hickman of the Rogersville, Tenn., area, was pronounced dead at Middletown Regional Hospital in Butler County on Saturday, shortly after being found unresponsive at a Warren County residence where she was staying.

RECENT COVERAGE
  • OxyContin becomes the 'heroin of the Midwest'
  • Physician caught up in OxyContin scheme
  • OxyContin use likely to spread
        The Cincinnati Enquirer, which last week reported growing concerns about OxyContin abuse, had previously found no documented Tristate deaths from it; Ms. Hickman's cause of death won't be known for certain for several weeks.

        A Franklin woman with whom Ms. Hickman had stayed for perhaps only one night had a prescription for OxyContin, which is used to treat the pain from cancer and other illnesses. The woman discovered about 20 of her pills were missing, authorities said.

        Dr. Richard P. Burkhardt, Butler County's coroner, said the preliminary cause of Ms. Hickman's death appeared to be an overdose of OxyContin. Her urine tested positive for opiates, he said.

        However, an autopsy also revealed a blood clot in her lung, Dr. Burkhardt said; he will need test results to determine if Ms. Hickman's body contained lethal levels.

How it works

        OxyContin is a potent narcotic prescribed for people with chronic, severe pain. Its active ingredient, oxycodone, is derived from opium. A patented substance bonds with the oxycodone in OxyContin, and can measure the level of pain-killer in the blood, releasing more or less as needed. Dosages — ranging from 10 to 160 milligrams — typically last 12 hours. The drug has almost no side effects.

        Abusers defeat OxyContin's time-release substance by crushing the pills and snorting them, or by using a special process to extract the oxycodone, then inject it. The result is a quick, intense high, described by some as similar to heroin. It is highly addictive, and overdoses can be fatal.

       



Lawmakers gamble with education funding
Two indicted for morgue photos
Bengals seat settlement may top $1.5M
Police union willing to bend in racial profiling lawsuit
- Tenn. woman might be first OxyContin victim
Wed-Cam puts live weddings on Web
Hats off to Batsakes
Luken kicks off mayor campaign
PULFER: Memories of a real champion
Support payouts on hold
Teachers blamed for portfolio snafu
Ex-teacher jailed for sexual Net messages
Girl, 10, escapes rape attempt
Group protests minister's removal from state board
Judge's home under guard
Monzel to get Winburn's council seat
Two suspects in 1977 slaying
New scanners deny access
Parents question kindergarten readiness
Schools clarify redesign policy
Schools seek tax increase
Toledo firm wins bid for Butler Co. fiber optics
Kentucky Digest
Local Digest
Companies indicted in nursing home deaths
Death row case appealed
Taft has surgery to remove tumor
VP debate boosted school, officials say
Weapons permits under fire