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Kenneth L. McCall:

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Oxycodone ; Opioids ; Pharmacoepidemiology ; Opioid policy


Objectives This study aims to characterise oxycodone’s distribution and opioid-related overdoses in the USA by state from 2000 to 2021. Design This is an observational study. Setting More than 80 000 Americans died of an opioid overdose in 2021 as the USA continues to struggle with an opioid crisis. Prescription opioids play a substantial role, introducing patients to opioids and providing a supply of drugs that can be redirected to those seeking to misuse them. Methods The Drug Enforcement Administration annual summary reports from the Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System provided weights of oxycodone distributed per state by business type (pharmacies, hospitals and practitioners). Weights were converted to morphine milligram equivalents (MME) per capita and normalised for population. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Wide-ranging ONline Data for Epidemiologic Research provided mortality data for heroin, other opioids, methadone, other synthetic narcotics and other/unspecified narcotics. Results There was a sharp 280.13% increase in total MME/person of oxycodone from 2000 to 2010, followed by a slower 54.34% decrease from 2010 to 2021. Florida (2007–2011), Delaware (2003–2020) and Tennessee (2012–2021) displayed consistent and substantial elevations in combined MME/person compared with other states. In the peak year (2010), there was a 15-fold difference between the highest and lowest states. MME/person from only pharmacies, which constituted >94% of the total, showed similar results. Hospitals in Alaska (2000–2001, 2008, 2010–2021), Colorado (2008–2021) and DC (2000–2011) distributed substantially more MME/person over many years compared with other states. Florida stood out in practitioner-distributed oxycodone, with an elevation of almost 15-fold the average state from 2006 to 2010. Opioid-related deaths increased +806% from 2000 to 2021, largely driven by heroin, other opioids and other synthetic narcotics. Conclusions Oxycodone distribution across the USA showed marked differences between states and business types over time. Investigation of opioid policies in states of interest may provide insight for future actions to mitigate opioid misuse.


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© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2024. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ. This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License