from the prescription-for-a-disaster dept.
Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:
Patients would no longer have to wake up in the middle of the night to take their pills, Purdue told doctors. One OxyContin tablet in the morning and one before bed would provide "smooth and sustained pain control all day and all night."
When Purdue unveiled OxyContin in 1996, it touted 12-hour duration.
On the strength of that promise, OxyContin became America's bestselling painkiller, and Purdue reaped $31 billion in revenue.
But OxyContin's stunning success masked a fundamental problem: The drug wears off hours early in many people, a Los Angeles Times investigation found. OxyContin is a chemical cousin of heroin, and when it doesn't last, patients can experience excruciating symptoms of withdrawal, including an intense craving for the drug.
The problem offers new insight into why so many people have become addicted to OxyContin, one of the most abused pharmaceuticals in U.S. history.
Over the last 20 years, more than 7 million Americans have abused OxyContin, according to the federal government's National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The drug is widely blamed for setting off the nation's prescription opioid epidemic, which has claimed more than 190,000 lives from overdoses involving OxyContin and other painkillers since 1999.
The internal Purdue documents reviewed by The Times come from court cases and government investigations and include many records sealed by the courts. They span three decades, from the conception of OxyContin in the mid-1980s to 2011, and include emails, memos, meeting minutes and sales reports, as well as sworn testimony by executives, sales reps and other employees.
The documents provide a detailed picture of the development and marketing of OxyContin, how Purdue executives responded to complaints that its effects wear off early, and their fears about the financial impact of any departure from 12-hour dosing.
Reporters also examined Food and Drug Administration records, Patent Office files and medical journal articles, and interviewed experts in pain treatment, addiction medicine and pharmacology.
Experts said that when there are gaps in the effect of a narcotic like OxyContin, patients can suffer body aches, nausea, anxiety and other symptoms of withdrawal. When the agony is relieved by the next dose, it creates a cycle of pain and euphoria that fosters addiction, they said.
OxyContin taken at 12-hour intervals could be "the perfect recipe for addiction," said Theodore J. Cicero, a neuropharmacologist at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and a leading researcher on how opioids affect the brain.
Patients in whom the drug doesn't last 12 hours can suffer both a return of their underlying pain and "the beginning stages of acute withdrawal," Cicero said. "That becomes a very powerful motivator for people to take more drugs."
-- submitted from IRC
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.
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
The Associated Press newswire reports:
After three defendants fatally overdosed in a single week last year, it became clear that Buffalo's ordinary drug treatment court was no match for the heroin and painkiller crisis.
Now the city is experimenting with the nation's first opioid crisis intervention court, which can get users into treatment within hours of their arrest instead of days, requires them to check in with a judge every day for a month instead of once a week, and puts them on strict curfews. Administering justice takes a back seat to the overarching goal of simply keeping defendants alive.
[...] Buffalo-area health officials blamed 300 deaths on opioid overdoses in 2016, up from 127 two years earlier. That includes a young couple who did not make it to their second drug court appearance last spring. The woman's father arrived instead to tell the judge his daughter and her boyfriend had died the night before.
[...] "This 30-day thing is like being beat up and being asked to get in the ring again, and you're required to," 36-year-old Ron Woods said after one of his daily face-to-face meetings with City Court Judge Craig Hannah, who presides over the program.
Woods said his heroin use started with an addiction to painkillers prescribed after cancer treatments that began when he was 21. He was arrested on drug charges in mid-May and agreed to intervention with the dual hope of kicking the opioids that have killed two dozen friends and seeing the felony charges against him reduced or dismissed.
[...] "I don't want to die in the streets, especially with the fentanyl out there," Sammy Delgado, one of the handcuffed defendants, said.
Following hundreds of lawsuits over the years against pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma, Colorado's attorney general is suing the OxyContin creator for its "significant role in causing the opioid epidemic." The lawsuit claims Purdue Pharma L.P. and Purdue Pharma Inc. deluded doctors and patients in Colorado about the potential for addiction with prescription opioids and continued to push the drugs. And it comes amid news that the company's former chairman and president, Richard Sackler, has patented a new drug to help wean addicts from opioids.
[...] In federal court in 2007, three top current and former employees for Purdue pleaded guilty to criminal charges, admitting that they had falsely led doctors and their patients to believe that OxyContin was less likely to be abused than other drugs in its class, according to The New York Times. Then earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal reported that Purdue planned to stop promoting the drug.
Now, it seems, a new business venture is only adding to the outcry. The Financial Times reported that Sackler, whose family owns Purdue Pharma, a multibillion-dollar company, patented a new drug earlier this year that is a form of buprenorphine, a mild opioid that is used to ease withdrawal symptoms. However, some are expressing outrage that the Sacklers, who have in essence profited from opioid addictions, may soon be profiting from the antidote. "It's reprehensible what Purdue Pharma has done to our public health," Luke Nasta, director of Camelot, a New York-based treatment center for drug and alcohol addiction, told the Financial Times. He told the newspaper that the Sackler family "shouldn't be allowed to peddle any more synthetic opiates - and that includes opioid substitutes."
Financial Times also reported that the Sackler family owns Rhodes Pharma, "a little-known Rhode Island-based drugmaker that is among the largest producers of off-patent generic opioids in the U.S."
Also at The Independent.
Previously: City of Everett, Washington Sues OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma
OxyContin's 12-Hour Problem
South Carolina Sues OxyContin Maker Purdue
Purdue Pharma to Cut Sales Force, Stop Marketing Opioids to Doctors
Tens or Hundreds of Billions of Dollars Needed to Combat Opioid Crisis? (Massachusetts Attorney General sues Sackler family)