The US FDA has approved a reformulated version of OxyContin, which slowly releases the potent opioid oxycodone to make the drug less open to abuse.

OxyContin is used to treat patients who need opioid analgesics for continuous pain management over a prolonged period, but the drug has become subject to widespread abuse.

The reformulated OxyContin is designed to avoid overdosing and to prevent the medication from being cut, broken, chewed, crushed or dissolved in order to release a stronger surge of the medication.

About half a million people used OxyContin for non-medical purposes in 2008, according to the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

The new formulation allows patients to take their drug less often, which had not been possible with the previous formulation.