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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Oxy And the Real Dope

OxyContin, made by Purdue Pharma, is intended to slowly release oxycodone for patients who need a continuous, around-the-clock treatment for moderate to severe pain for an extended period of time.

Several reports said Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, helped fuel widespread abuse of the drug by aggressively promoting it to general practitioners not skilled in either pain treatment or in recognizing drug abuse.The aggressive marketing campaign of a dangerous drug took its toll on the maker's pocketbook.

In 2007 Purdue Pharma agreed to pay $600 million in fines and other payments to resolve the charge that the company had misled doctors and patients by claiming that the drug’s long-acting quality made it less likely to be abused than traditional narcotics. The company’s president, medical director and top lawyer pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of misbranding and paid more than $34 million in fines. Were these fines just a token drop-in-the-bucket appeal to appease public outrage?

A few years later in an effort to curb some of continued illegal use of the drug, Purdue Pharma reformulated OxyContin. The reformulated drug was intended to prevent the opioid medication from being cut, broken, chewed, crushed or dissolved to release more medication, thereby potentially decreasing the risk of overdose that could result from tampering.

The new formulation of OxyContin was supposed to help reduce abuse due to inhaling or injection, but it still can be abused or misused by ingesting larger doses than are recommended, the F.D.A. warned. “Although this new formulation of OxyContin may provide only an incremental advantage over the current version of the drug, it is still a step in the right direction,” Bob Rappaport, the F.D.A.’s director of the division of anesthesia and analgesia products, said.  ("Harder-to-Break OxyContin Pill Wins Approval," Reuters, The New York Times, April 5 2010)

Today, OxyContin remains very attractive to drug abusers because it contains large quantities of a potent opioid pain killer, oxycodone. Its euphoric properties have made oxycontin a popular substitute for heroin among drug abusers, and it has been widely obtained and distributed illegally through faked prescriptions, theft, diversion from pharmacies and the practice of "doctor-shopping," in which people go from one doctor to another seeking multiple prescriptions.

Greedy, incompetent doctors are also to blame for the wide distribution of the drug. A common reason for disciplinary actions at state medical boards is the use of narcotics in patients who show clear signs of addiction or for whom the drugs are obviously inappropriate. For example, the F.D.A. has received reports of patients’ being prescribed such medicines to treat something as simple as a sprained ankle. Also, many so-called "pain clinics" employ doctors who attract crowds of patients hungry to obtain prescriptions for abuse or for profitable distribution of the drug. (Gardiner Harris, "F.D.A. to Place New Limits on Prescriptions of Narcotics," The New York Times, February 9 2009)

No one can ever right the wrongs done by distribution and misuse of this dangerous drug. The toll of this abuse will negatively affect the American people for generations. All, including those without any direct connection, will suffer the terrible costs of this abuse. Those cards have already been dealt and must be played.

The important message about OxyContin and other dangerous opioid drugs has a very familiar theme. It's the same theme taught by parents, the health community, and concerned individuals about smoking -- Do not begin experimenting with a harmful, addictive substance.

The key difference in the logical support for the Rx drug message, unlike the often unheeded advice about smoking, is that RX DRUG ABUSE WILL, NOT MAY, TURN YOUR LIFE (AND THE LIVES OF THOSE WHO LOVE YOU) INTO ABSOLUTE DESTRUCTION. Horror stories of addicts abound and often have great effect on people; however, the only person capable of understanding and applying needed knowledge for personal survival is you.

Playing On Cliffs

Creeping ever closer to the edge

An err of reasoning,
An ounce of bravado,
An instant of approval.

Tumbling into the black void

One small false step,
One unexpected gap,
One intended nudge.

Surviving the deadly fall

A crawl from the wreckage,
A recovery against the odds,
A grace that surpasses understanding.

Frank R. Thompson

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