The United States has an OxyContin issue on its hands. Related, it also has a heroin issue which the Oxycontin issue has spawned. While we don’t doubt the need for painkillers for people who truly need them, Big Pharma’s corrupt approach to marketing Oxycontin created a situation that potentially didn’t need to exist (at least at this scale).
An LA Times 2-part series is alleging that Purdue Pharma, the makers of OxyContin, lied about its 12-hour dosing times. The Times investigated thousands of pages of Purdue Pharma documentation which essentially says that 12-hour dosing is a fraud. It would seem Purdue Pharma lied about the dosing time as a way to convince patients to take the medicine for longer relief of pain, when in reality the half-life was much shorter, creating a user “need” for more much earlier than anticipated.
Here are the key points uncovered by The Times.
Purdue has known about the problem for decades. Even before OxyContin went on the market, clinical trials showed many patients weren’t getting 12 hours of relief. Since the drug’s debut in 1996, the company has been confronted with additional evidence, including complaints from doctors, reports from its own sales reps and independent research.
The company has held fast to the claim of 12-hour relief, in part to protect its revenue. OxyContin’s market dominance and its high price — up to hundreds of dollars per bottle — hinge on its 12-hour duration. Without that, it offers little advantage over less expensive painkillers.
When many doctors began prescribing OxyContin at shorter intervals in the late 1990s, Purdue executives mobilized hundreds of sales reps to “refocus” physicians on 12-hour dosing. Anything shorter “needs to be nipped in the bud. NOW!!” one manager wrote to her staff.
Purdue tells doctors to prescribe stronger doses, not more frequent ones, when patients complain that OxyContin doesn’t last 12 hours. That approach creates risks of its own. Research shows that the more potent the dose of an opioid such as OxyContin, the greater the possibility of overdose and death.
More than half of long-term OxyContin users are on doses that public health officials consider dangerously high, according to an analysis of nationwide prescription data conducted for The Times.
Purdue Pharma has made $31 billion in revenue, most thankfully due to the mega-success that OxyContin is. But clearly they’ve done so using manipulative strategies and complete fraud.
The documents also reveal that Purdue Pharma executives blatantly lied in the face of consumer complaints about the drug’s dosing times. The time between dosing can lead to body aches, nausea, anxiety and a host of other issues, something Purdue Pharma clearly relied on for enhancing sales.
Purdue Pharma created a strategy, not for pain relief, but for addiction purposes. Addiction drives revenue.
The fallout from this manipulation has been nothing short of savage. Many addicts have had to turn to heroin use due to not being able to get enough, or any, Oxycontin due to costs issues.
You can read more of the lengthy details on The Times. It is shocking, to say the least.