OxyContin addiction

OxyContin Addiction: Did Manufacturers Disregard Evidence Of Inaccurate ‘Twice-Daily Dosage’ Claims To Ensure Profits?

OxyContin addiction is a serious concern in the United States, with an estimated 2.1 million people suffering from prescription opiate pain reliever addiction. Interestingly, OxyContin was created as a means to curb prescription opiate addiction by offering a time-released pain relief product that required just two-daily doses to remain effective. However, a new report suggests OxyContin is not curbing opiate addiction but exasperating it, as patients receiving the drug become addicted to the product that consistently wears off before its advertised 12-hour pain relief period. The L.A. Times is reporting that OxyContin may not be working as described and that its manufacturer, Purdue Pharma, may have intentionally overlooked evidence that the drug was wearing off too early, resulting in increased dosage by patients and ultimately addiction.

The L.A. Times is reporting that Purdue Pharma may have had evidence some two decades ago that their product, OxyContin, may not work as described. The bombshell report claims that Purdue Pharma may have overlooked evidence suggesting that the pain relieving properties of OxyContin were wearing off earlier than advertised in a bid to ensure increased profits from the flagship drug.

OxyContin has brought in an estimated $31 billion in revenue, as it became the bestselling pain relief prescription drug in America. The opiate touted the benefits of twice-per-day dosing that would provide “smooth and sustained pain control all day” with just two tablets. However, the L.A. Times claims that, on numerous occasions, Purdue Pharma has been presented with evidence that pain relief is not lasting the touted 12 hours and that patients are requiring additional doses that can lead to addiction.

“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.”

Despite complaints about the product wearing off too soon, it is reported that Purdue Pharma has made no efforts to increase the longevity of its product and has instead told doctors to increase dosage to combat the problem. However, increasing dosage of OxyContin has been linked to higher incidents of overdosing and even death. The L.A. Times claims that despite the inherent risks associated with increased dosing, pharmaceutical reps were told to push the 12-hour dosing onto doctors and ensure that anything less was not acceptable. Instead, doctors were encouraged to increase dosage instead of decreasing hours between dosages.

So why would Purdue Pharma want doctors to stick to 12-hour dosing despite complaints that the product was wearing off early? The report says that without the ability to tout the 12-hour dosing claims, Purdue would lose its competitive advantage over cheaper pain relieving options on the market.

“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.”

Despite its intended purpose to stop the epidemic of opiate addiction, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health claims reveals that over the 20 years since OxyContin was released for public consumption, 7 million Americans have abused the drug. Theodore J. Cicero, a neuropharmacologist at the Washington University School of Medicine, notes that the 12-hour dosing intervals are ideal for opiate addiction. If the drug does not last the full 12 hours, a patient will have initial return of pain while also experiencing the initial stages of acute withdrawal.

“That becomes a very powerful motivator for people to take more drugs.”

The Times report claims that Purdue Pharma not only overlooked the potential problems with the drug, but may have intentionally done so in order to ensure steady profit streams and an edge over competitors. As a result of efforts by the company to continue to push OxyContin, in 2007, three top executives pleaded guilty to fraud for downplaying OxyContin’s risk of addiction and paid out $635 million. However, with $31 billion in revenues, that is hardly a drop in the bucket and the admission of downplaying risk of addiction did nothing to combat issues of reported premature pain relief failure in the drug.

Therefore, the company continued to push pharmaceutical reps to proclaim the 12-hour power of the drug. The company reported in testing that 90 percent of patients experienced 12-hour pain relief using OxyContin, but outside studies reported by independent doctors suggest the pill does not even come close to those numbers with many noting that 70-80 percent of patients complain that the product wears off after no more than seven hours. The company acknowledged in memos obtained by The L.A. Times that 27.8 percent of doctors were prescribing OxyContin at eight-hour intervals instead of 12-hour intervals.

Despite the complaints from doctors, acknowledgement of shorter drug use intervals, and a number of lawsuits settled outside of court for “misrepresentation of efficiency,” Purdue continues to claim the 12-hour pain relief benefits of OxyContin to patients and doctors.

Interestingly, as the Inquisitr previously reported, the FDA has approved the use of OxyContin in children but is still refusing to approve medical marijuana legalization.

What do you think about the bombshell claims against Purdue Pharma and OxyContin? Should pharmaceutical companies be held liable for incidents such as the rise in addiction related to OxyContin use?

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