Scoring the best deal: Quantity discounts and street price variation of diverted oxycodone and oxymorphone

Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2019 Jan;28(1):25-30. doi: 10.1002/pds.4558. Epub 2018 May 15.


Purpose: Diverted prescription opioids are significant contributors to drug overdose mortality. Street price has been suggested as an economic metric of the diverted prescription opioid black market. This study examined variables that may influence the street price of diverted oxycodone and oxymorphone.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted utilizing data from the previously validated, crowdsourcing website StreetRx. Street price reports of selected oxycodone and oxymorphone products, between August 22, 2014 and June 30, 2016, were considered for analysis. Geometric means and 95% confidence intervals were calculated comparing prices per milligram of drug in US dollars. Univariate and multivariable regressions were used to examine the influence of dosage strength, drug formulation, and bulk purchasing on street price.

Results: A total of 5611 oxycodone and 1420 oxymorphone reports were analyzed. Across various dosages and formulations, geometric mean prices per milligram ranged between $0.12 and $1.07 for oxycodone and $0.73 and $2.90 for oxymorphone. For a 2-fold increase in dosage strength, there is a 24.0% (95% CI: -28.1%, -19.6%, P < 0.001) and a 22.5% (95% CI: -24.2%, -20.8%, P < 0.001) decrease on average in price per milligram for oxycodone and oxymorphone, respectively. Lower potency, high dosage strength, crush-resistant opioids, and those purchased in bulk were significantly cheaper.

Conclusion: Street prices for diverted oxycodone and oxymorphone are influenced by multiple factors including potency, dosage, formulation, and bulk purchasing. Buyers who purchase large quantities of low potency, large dosage, crush-resistant formulation prescription opioids can expect to achieve the lowest price.

Keywords: RADARS system; drug abuse; drug diversion; pharmacoepidemiology; prescription opioids; quantity discounts; street price.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Commerce / economics
  • Commerce / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drug Overdose / etiology
  • Drug Overdose / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs / adverse effects
  • Illicit Drugs / economics*
  • Narcotics / adverse effects
  • Narcotics / economics*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / etiology
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / prevention & control
  • Oxycodone / adverse effects
  • Oxycodone / economics*
  • Oxymorphone / adverse effects
  • Oxymorphone / economics*
  • Prescription Drug Diversion / economics*
  • Prescription Drug Diversion / statistics & numerical data
  • Prospective Studies
  • United States


  • Illicit Drugs
  • Narcotics
  • Oxymorphone
  • Oxycodone