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posted by cmn32480 on Thursday March 16 2017, @06:38PM   Printer-friendly
from the they-are-supposed-to-be-"controlled"-substances dept.

An American city is suing the maker of OxyContin for its alleged role in fueling the national opioid epidemic:

After spending millions to combat the opioid epidemic ravaging its citizens, the working-class city of Everett, Washington, is taking the maker of opioid painkiller OxyContin to federal court. The city claims that the drug maker, Purdue Pharma, knowingly sold to black markets out of pure greed, enabling the devastating epidemic hitting Everett and the rest of the country.

According to the lawsuit (PDF) filed in federal court in Seattle, Everett accuses Purdue Pharma of "knowingly, recklessly, and/or negligently supplying OxyContin to obviously suspicious physicians and pharmacies and enabling the illegal diversion of OxyContin into the black market, including to drug rings, pill mills, and other dealers for dispersal of the highly addictive pills in Everett." Purdue's goal, Everett alleges, was to "generate enormous profits" at the expense of the people of Everett. [...] "Our community has been significantly damaged, and we need to be made whole," Everett's mayor, Ray Stephanson, told ABC News.

[...] In a statement, Purdue disputed Everett's claims, saying that it did notify the DEA and acted responsibly. "We look forward to presenting the facts in court," the company said. Purdue also said that its opioids now account for less than two percent of US opioid prescriptions.


Original Submission

Related Stories

Purdue Pharma to Cut Sales Force, Stop Marketing Opioids to Doctors 46 comments

Pain Pill Giant Purdue to Stop Promotion of Opioids to Doctors

Pain-pill giant Purdue Pharma LP will stop promoting its opioid drugs to doctors, a retreat after years of criticism that the company's aggressive sales efforts helped lay the foundation of the U.S. addiction crisis.

The company told employees this week that it would cut its sales force by more than half, to 200 workers. It plans to send a letter Monday to doctors saying that its salespeople will no longer come to their clinics to talk about the company's pain products.

"We have restructured and significantly reduced our commercial operation and will no longer be promoting opioids to prescribers," the company said in a statement. Instead, any questions doctors have will be directed to the Stamford, Connecticut-based company's medical affairs department.

OxyContin, approved in 1995, is the closely held company's biggest-selling drug, though sales of the pain pill have declined in recent years amid competition from generics. It generated $1.8 billion in 2017, down from $2.8 billion five years earlier, according to data compiled by Symphony Health Solutions. It also sells the painkiller Hysingla.

Oxycodone.

Also at Reuters, USA Today, The Verge, and CNN.

Previously: City of Everett, Washington Sues OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma
OxyContin's 12-Hour Problem
South Carolina Sues OxyContin Maker Purdue

Related: Opioid Crisis Partly Blamed on a 1980 Letter to the New England Journal of Medicine
President Trump Declares the Opioid Crisis a National Emergency
Study Finds Stark Increase in Opioid-Related Admissions, Deaths in Nation's ICUs
CVS Limits Opioid Prescriptions
Congress Reacts to Reports that a 2016 Law Hindered DEA's Ability to go after Opioid Distributors
Opioid Crisis Official; Insys Therapeutics Billionaire Founder Charged; Walgreens Stocks Narcan


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Subsentient on Thursday March 16 2017, @07:12PM (21 children)

    It frustrates me how it seems that often the medications that actually work are the addictive ones. I know a number of people who live in excruciating pain daily, and oxycodone is the only thing that gives them real relief. They take it as directed. Sadly though, I also know of a number of people who are severely addicted to oxycodone.
    --
    Instead of getting bogged down in the infuriating details, focus on the unquestionably terrible big picture. -The Onion
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by ikanreed on Thursday March 16 2017, @07:34PM (4 children)

      by ikanreed (3164) on Thursday March 16 2017, @07:34PM (#479986)

      Want to know what's broke?

      It's not that there are synthetic opioid painkillers. They've existed for a long time, sold under many different brands with no substantial abuse prior to 2000ish.

      It's fucking marketing.

      It's absolutely no coincidence that the opioid epidemic followed tightly on the heels of Purdue(yes the same company mentioned this article) on doubling their sales force and tying their commissions to high-return drugs, namely OxyContin, sales through their assigned regions doctor's offices. And they were some of the biggest quid-pro-quo assholes. Huge, all-expenses-paid vacation "conferences". And while Obama's sunlight order to the FDA(which I sadly doubt the current administration will continue to enforce) kept them from giving freebies to doctors. They also made sure their marketing material asserted the importance of opioids for non-malignant pain, which the FDA had previously asserted was not worth the risks to patients.

      Not only that they put together low-quality studies to show that the risks of addiction to opioids were overstated. And then they included these "results" in all their marketing materials as well.

      referenced American Journal of Public Health article [nih.gov]

      No one should be actively pushing addictive substances, especially through the medical industry. I'm not normally one to buy into generic "Big Pharma" conspriacy theories, but these fuckers? They're money grubbing assholes purposefully disinterested in the safety and wellbeing of their customers. Let Purdue burn as a lesson to the rest of them. There's still morphine, hyrdocodone, and other strong painkillers for non-malignant pain.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 16 2017, @07:45PM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 16 2017, @07:45PM (#479991)

        Mod points, my kingdom for a mod point...

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 16 2017, @08:44PM (2 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 16 2017, @08:44PM (#480020)

          > Mod points, my kingdom for a mod point...

          Raise the bar? (that is, your personal standard)

          I rarely give out more than one or two mod points per day. That way I almost always have one when I see something really good (or really bad). Most days I look at ~75% of the stories, browsing at -1.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 16 2017, @10:31PM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 16 2017, @10:31PM (#480074)

            It's possible that the AC is a true AC (unlike you and I) and doesn't have any mod points.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17 2017, @03:41AM

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17 2017, @03:41AM (#480186)

              It's possible that the AC is a true AC (unlike you and I) and doesn't have any mod points.

              Beg pardon? Are you suggesting that there are true ACs operating right here in River City? (I mean, SoylentNews.) Well, that would explain the offer of a kingdom, since everyone knows that all true ACs are masters of their own domains.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Thexalon on Thursday March 16 2017, @08:06PM (13 children)

      by Thexalon (636) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 16 2017, @08:06PM (#480000) Homepage

      There's an important unanswered question there: Did those people in excruciating pain try marijuana? Whatever you may think of hippie dopers, they don't overdose, aren't physically addicted, and are generally harmless, whereas I can say none of those things about people who end up migrating from oxycodone to heroin to worse.

      I'm of the opinion that our government putting pot on Schedule I (no accepted medical use) while putting opiates on Schedule II (highly controlled, but allowed for medical use) is one of the major reasons for the current rise in heroin use. And I say that as somebody who has never used a recreational drug stronger than alcohol, and only been really drunk once in my life.

      --
      A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of bad gravy.
      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 16 2017, @08:29PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 16 2017, @08:29PM (#480009)

        The thing is once you go down the pill route mary jane does not work as well. Someone going through withdrawals will try it but it will not work. The other way around? Maybe. I am of the opinion it should be rescheduled because of its relatively harmless nature. But it needs better study before we claim it as the cure all it is being sold as. Unfortunately the BS on both sides makes it hard to say. Once side using fear the other side using word of mouth evidence. Proper studies are starting to happen but it will take time.

        Heroin on the street is cheaper than an Oxy. Once you have the monkey on your back you will do anything. Heroin fixes the sickness and is about half the price but can in some instances be harder to get. Oxys are pretty hard to get a hold of as you usually have to be pretty messed up to get them. Then you usually are not going to sell them as you are usually hooked yourself. Vicodins though are dead easy to get a hold of usually. Think of the worst flu you have ever had. Now think of doing that every 6 hours if you dont get anything and mindblowing muscle cramps for extra fun. Suboxon and methadone are two of the known ways to taper out and not feel like hell. But they do not fix the addict mentality which is a whole different animal. In many ways they are very addictive too.

        Dealers also use MJ as a 'gateway' to up sell you to get more fucked up. Once you cross that threshold you are more likely to become an addict. Not all people fall into it. But many do.

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by kurenai.tsubasa on Thursday March 16 2017, @08:37PM

          by kurenai.tsubasa (5227) on Thursday March 16 2017, @08:37PM (#480013) Journal

          Yeah, weed is totally responsible for the opioid epidemic! Hooray for gateway drug theory! And let's just keep it schedule 1 so those studies can never happen. AND let's THROW OUT the fucking studies that have ALREADY BEEN DONE. Fuck you.

        • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Immerman on Friday March 17 2017, @04:59AM

          by Immerman (3985) on Friday March 17 2017, @04:59AM (#480218)

          >Dealers also use MJ as a 'gateway' to up sell you to get more fucked up

          Dealers would use chocolate and ice cream as "gateway drugs" if they were illegal.

          The "gateway" problem has nothing to do with marijuana itself - the vast majority of users never move to anything more dangerous. The problem is that since it's maximally illegal, getting it often involves dealing with the sort of criminal scum who are happily selling much more profitable and dangerous drugs too, and are more than happy to take advantage of your drug-addled state to get you hooked on something more profitable.

          Well, that and the fact that the anti-marijuana campaigns are all pretty much pure bullshit, and once someone (especially a teenager) realizes that, it's easy for them to assume that the warnings against heroin, PCP, and other truly dangerous drugs are equally fabricated.

      • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Thursday March 16 2017, @08:33PM (4 children)

        by Immerman (3985) on Thursday March 16 2017, @08:33PM (#480012)

        >And I say that as somebody who has never used a recreational drug stronger than alcohol, and only been really drunk once in my life.

        And you could continue to say that even if you were a regular user of marijuana. Alcohol is actually one of the strongest and most dangerous and addictive of the commonly used recreational drugs out there. Only opioids really give it a run for it's money. And tobacco I suppose, but while it's extremely addictive and dangerous, it's hard to call it "strong", even extremely potent tobacco has only relatively minor psychoactive properties.

        • (Score: 2) by inertnet on Thursday March 16 2017, @10:27PM (3 children)

          by inertnet (4071) on Thursday March 16 2017, @10:27PM (#480073)

          Alcohol is actually one of the strongest and most dangerous and addictive of the commonly used recreational drugs out there

          I believe that is not the same for everyone (and I think it's in the genes). I can't imagine ever getting addicted to alcohol. I'm the only one in my family who ever drinks alcohol, and because drinking alone is no fun, it happens maybe 5 times a year and then only moderately. I used to smoke for 25 years and that really was an addiction, which took some mental strength to get rid of. I haven't had a smoke in 20 years and now I think it's disgusting and can't stand the smell anymore. It's like I became allergic to it.

          I do know people who are addicted to alcohol, whom I sometimes try to convince to be strong and never drink when alone, but they tend to forget my advice after a while. Addiction to alcohol is not the same for everyone.

          I've never tried opioids but they must be extremely addictive, seeing what they do to others. I believe that everyone who tries them will get addicted after a short while, so they're different from alcohol in that regard.

          • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Immerman on Thursday March 16 2017, @11:15PM (2 children)

            by Immerman (3985) on Thursday March 16 2017, @11:15PM (#480095)

            The thing is, addiction is not actually physical at it's root. Yeah, the withdrawal associated with physical addiction makes it that much harder to quit, but that's not what keeps you coming back. What keeps you coming back is that you've found a way to fill a hole in your life with a drug (or gambling, or shopping, or...). As long as that hole is there, you're going to keep trying to fill it, and your chosen drug is the quick-and-easy-and-familiar fix to a problem that's probably quite difficult to really solve. And after a while the quick fix becomes a habit - and anyone that's ever shed a bad habit can tell you just how difficult that can be, even when the habit doesn't actually offer any benefits.

            Opioids for example are powerfully physically addictive, but are also widely used for pain management. If addiction was about chemical dependency then every person who went in for major surgery would come out a junky. There was actually serious concern about that during... WWI/II I believe, when heroin was widely administered to injured soldiers. The reality though is that pretty much every patient and soldier walks away from them without problems, because they're using them to fight pain rather than fill a hole, and when the pain fades to endurable levels the drugs no longer have anything substantial to offer. It's the transient pleasure of the high against the enduring satisfaction of a decent life. The high may offer a fun "vacation" once in a while, but it gets in the way of the satisfaction of living your life.

            If you *don't* have a good life though - soulless job, few real friends, and/or enduring emotional trauma, then the pain never goes away. There's a constant gnawing emptiness in your life. We're social animals, evolutionarily programmed to be a useful part of a tribe. And drugs provide, at the very least, a way to numb the pain of its absence. So you keep going back to the drugs. And the more time you spend feeding your addiction, the less time you spend doing things that might actually solve the problem, and things can rapidly begin to spiral out of control.

            That's especially true in countries like the US, that have a strong cultural and legal stigma against addiction. Once you're known as an addict, social and employment opportunities, as well as connections with family and friends, begin to dry up. Which makes the hole worse. Which provides greater incentive to fill it with your drug, which drives others further away from you. The whole social framework becomes part of the spiral of addiction.

            • (Score: 1) by Roger Murdock on Friday March 17 2017, @03:50AM (1 child)

              by Roger Murdock (4897) on Friday March 17 2017, @03:50AM (#480189)

              What keeps you coming back is that you've found a way to fill a hole in your life with a drug (or gambling, or shopping, or...). As long as that hole is there, you're going to keep trying to fill it"

              If only there were some Jesus-like figure whom I could let into my heart to fill that hole!

              • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Immerman on Friday March 17 2017, @04:39AM

                by Immerman (3985) on Friday March 17 2017, @04:39AM (#480211)

                There was, once, at least according to legend. Though it's worth noting that there's no definitive references to him in historical documents until a century after his supposed death, so it's possible he was a literary fabrication - a possibility that gains credibility in light of the many parallels between his legend and that of several much more ancient religious figures in the region. Though of course that might also be due simply to embellishing of his legend after the man himself had died.

                Sadly, even if he did truly exist, he died almost 2000 years ago, and all that's left of him on this plane of reality is his legend, most of which has been horribly warped by changing cultural contexts and corrupt religious officials seeking to use his good name to further their own agendas, as evidenced by the myriad contradictory interpretations of those legends that haven't been outright re-written or expunged.

                If Jesus still exists in some form capable of comprehension and feeling, I can only imagine that he weeps bitter tears about what his legend has become, and the countless atrocities committed in his name.

                But hey, if your connection to his legend fills a hole in your life, and saves you from more destructive addictions, then by all means continue. He would probably approve, provided you don't let that comfort dissuade you from actually fixing the hole. After all, one of the few things his many legends agree on is that he was big on healing and connecting with your fellow man.

                Just try not to be a sanctimonious, self-righteous prick about it. The man who offered his comfort and wisdom to lepers and whores would not approve.

      • (Score: 2) by sjames on Thursday March 16 2017, @08:41PM (2 children)

        by sjames (2882) on Thursday March 16 2017, @08:41PM (#480017) Journal

        I doubt very much that they have. It's simply illegal in most places and so can't be prescribed. Even in other places where it is legal, you can bet the DEA is itching for a chance to bust any doctor that dares to prescribe marijuana for any reason.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 16 2017, @09:10PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 16 2017, @09:10PM (#480026)

          They certainly are now:

          “I’m astonished to hear people suggest we can solve our heroin crisis — have you heard this? — by having more marijuana,” Sessions said during a speech to a gathering of law enforcement on Wednesday. “I mean, how stupid is that? Give me a break. So we’re going to have to stand up and confront that, tell the truth here. And our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs is bad, that it will destroy your life.”

          Jeff Sessions, March 15th, 2017 [vox.com]

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 16 2017, @10:36PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 16 2017, @10:36PM (#480076)

            Sessions was also astonished that to hear that people expected him to tell the truth while under oath at his confirmation hearing.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17 2017, @03:55AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17 2017, @03:55AM (#480191)

        I was on various pain medications for nearly a decade for a back injury. Went through vicodin, tramadol, morphine, oxycodone, dilaudid, fentanyl, and methadone and ended up severely addicted by the end of it all. I've been off the painkillers for a few months now and have been supplementing with marijuana. While its not as effective as the opioids were for breakthrough pain, for around-the-clock management they do pretty much as good as the opioids. Its only when the pain gets severe enough, like a 7 or 8 out of 10 that marijuana becomes ineffective at providing adequate relief. Opioids definitely have a place in the medicinal arsenal that doctors have but certainly they are currently being overprescribed and abused.

        accidentally posted this to the wrong comment :(

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17 2017, @08:31AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17 2017, @08:31AM (#480299)

        An even more important question, did these people try placebos or hypnosis? They both excel at pain management and are vastly cheaper than everything else. When you're in a fight, your brain ignores the pain and focus solely on the fight to survive. You can learn to use that ability to block chronic pain.

    • (Score: 2) by digitalaudiorock on Thursday March 16 2017, @08:30PM

      by digitalaudiorock (688) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 16 2017, @08:30PM (#480011)

      It frustrates me how it seems that often the medications that actually work are the addictive ones. I know a number of people who live in excruciating pain daily, and oxycodone is the only thing that gives them real relief. They take it as directed. Sadly though, I also know of a number of people who are severely addicted to oxycodone.

      ...which is precisely why their use was at one time restricted to terminal patients. The evidence seems pretty significant that they simply don't work for long term pain management because they either become less effective over time or cause addition or both. Yet somehow it was decided these issues had magically gone away, and here we are with an epidemic.

      The truth is that those behind this cluster-fuck care about as much about those realities as the guy on the corner selling junk (where many patients eventually end up)...and I guess if you OD you can't sue right?...sounds like a win-win for pharma to me. I hope every state and municipality in the country sues them into the stone age frankly.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17 2017, @03:51AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17 2017, @03:51AM (#480190)

      I was on various pain medications for nearly a decade for a back injury. Went through vicodin, tramadol, morphine, oxycodone, dilaudid, fentanyl, and methadone and ended up severely addicted by the end of it all. I've been off the painkillers for a few months now and have been supplementing with marijuana. While its not as effective as the opioids were for breakthrough pain, for around-the-clock management they do pretty much as good as the opioids. Its only when the pain gets severe enough, like a 7 or 8 out of 10 that marijuana becomes ineffective at providing adequate relief. Opioids definitely have a place in the medicinal arsenal that doctors have but certainly they are currently being overprescribed and abused.

  • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 16 2017, @09:24PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 16 2017, @09:24PM (#480034)

    I blame Doctor House MD. This obnoxios guy is guilty of making it look cool to be an addict to opioids. They should take way his physician permit.

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