Deaths due to narcotic abuse typically occur by overdose, and consequent respiratory failure. New data demonstrates a novel cause of death associated with narcotic abuse. On October 12, 2012 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that individuals who abuse the prescription pain medication oxymorphone hydrochloride extended-release tablets (Opana ER, Endo Pharmaceuticals) are at serious risk of developing thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP), a blood disorder that can result in kidney failure and death.
According to the FDA, cases of TTP linked to Opana appear to occur only when the drug is injected intravenously.
The FDA notes that in TTP, blood clots form in small blood vessels throughout the body. The clots can limit or block blood flow to the body’s organs, such as the kidneys, brain, and heart.
Platelets help the blood to clot. In TTP, as platelets form blood clots, fewer of them are available to assist with clotting in other parts of the body. This can lead to bleeding under the skin and internal bleeding.
TTP can cause death or lead to other complications with permanent damage, such as kidney failure, brain damage, or stroke.