The History of OxyContin: The Downfall of a Painkiller Drug
On December 12, 1995, Purdue Pharma obtained approval to market oxycodone, an opioid painkiller, under the brand name of OxyContin. In 1996, Purdue commenced a product launch of their new drug as an extended release schedule II narcotic. OxyContin was given approval as being an improvement to morphine, at a time when it was recognized that pain symptoms in many patients were undertreated by doctors. Unlike morphine (delivered to the patient according to strict legal requirements), OxyContin was always intended to be self administered and available in prescription form, but only for patients with moderate to severe pain.
The Problem of Pain Management
Pain management has always been problematic. Although many, such as the Veteran’s Administration, have made pain as the 5th vital sign, which is something to be managed and treated, there is an alternative view. The expression of pain and its meaning is so subjective that it cannot be considered objectively as a reliable indicator of health or disability.
There is and will always be an emotional component of pain - witness the screaming child, instantly cured with a pacifier. There is no doubt that most people who have used, and who continue to use OxyContin for physical pain relief, also get some reward in terms of reduced emotional pain. A narcotic drug that has the side effect of relieving the symptom of emotional pain, in addition to relief of physical pain, has the potential to become highly addictive.
As early as 1995, the problem of potential addiction was raised by the medical profession at meetings with Purdue Pharma. However, the pharmaceutical company took the risk of misleading the medical practitioners, and the general public, with the intention of making a profit. False information as to the safety and addiction potential of OxyContin was provided, and accepted at face value, by the doctors. (source: USA Today Article)
OxyContin is Released on the Market
In 1996, OxyContin went onto the market, as a safe alternative to morphine for people with intense, chronic pain. It was marketed as an extended release medication, originally in 10, 20 and 40mg strengths. In 1996, the 80mg dose was approved by the FDA and a 160mg dose was approved in the year 2000. Although warnings were provided that 80 / 160mg doses should be given only to opioid tolerant patients, it has subsequently been ascertained that even the 40mg dose carries serious risks for the opioid naïve user. (source: www.nlm.nih.gov)
Fueled by marketing tactics (as used by Purdue Pharma) that some have called aggressive, people throughout the world have been prescribed OxyContin and exposed to the risk of addiction and overdose.
OxyContin is in fact very much similar to heroin. People given a slow release heroin dose, might reasonably expect the risk of addiction. However, heroin is an illicit drug that no one expects to be safe. People who go to a doctor for prescription medications don’t expect to go home with a monkey on their back and the potential risk of taking an unintended overdose.
Purdue Pharma has been criticized for the emphasis that it placed in early marketing material, which made it very clear to people that crushing, or otherwise adulterating the product increased the risk of getting “high” and unintentional addiction. Some saw it as flagging to drug addicts the potential of OxyContin for use as an illicit drug. This painkiller has attracted drug addicts as a red rag to a bull. (source: http://www.gao.gov)
OxyContin Addiction reaches Alarming Levels
In the year 2011, OxyContin has survived, and sales increase every day. Addiction of this prescription drug has reached alarming levels. Its addiction in rural and indigenous communities has led to community elders calling upon their governments for immediate help to contain and eradicate OxyContin abuse. The problem still remains because of a lack of government initiative, or support for alternatives to painkiller drug use for chronic pain at a national level.
The Maker of OxyContin on Trial
Purdue Pharma was taken to court as a result of reports and findings of death by overdose, due to OxyContin addiction. By way of settlement, Purdue paid, in the year 2007, a sum of $19.5 million to 26 US states and the District of
Columbia. This settlement was based upon
allegations that the pharmaceutical company had used unethical, and, or illegal methods to encourage doctors to over prescribe OxyContin to their patients.
In the same year, Purdue Pharma settled an FDA case that could have led to criminal charges against some of its top executives by a payment of $ 634,5 million to the US government, this for claiming that OxyContin was less addictive and less susceptible to abuse than other pain relief medications. (source: http://www.justice.gov)
The combined result of the court actions led Purdue to re-package its OxyContin product in early 2010, so as to provide a genuine slow release formulation, with a more tamperproof structure. Nonetheless, there are increasing numbers of prescription drug addicts, and illicit users of this still highly addictive oxycodone product.
Since OxyContin first came onto the drug scene in 1996, alarming rates of addiction, related harm and death directly attributable to ill informed OxyContin use and abuse have continued to rise . Purdue removed from the market the 160mg medication for sale in the year 2001, as a result of government pressure for being unsafe.
Children have arrived at emergency rooms, suffering OxyContin o/d. Some have died, as do hundreds of people each year, throughout the world, as a result of oxycodone abuse. The problem with OxyContin is that it has become widely abused. The abuse is fueled by both prescription users, who are not informed and unaware of its addictive potential, together with increasing diversion of OxyContin to illicit use.
Court cases brought privately by individuals against the maker of the drug have been settled out of Court. However, authorities are reluctant to take action to remove OxyContin from the market due to there being no viable alternative in the medical field for self administered, long term pain relief.
As always, it is and will continue to be those most vulnerable in society who are at most risk of exploitation. OxyContin is also known as “hillbilly heroin”, due to the problems that it has caused in Virginia, and other areas of the Appalachian mountains. Between 1996 and 2005, 228 people in Western Virginia died from an oxycodone overdose, and many more suffer from continuing addiction. (source: http://www.vaag.com/PRESS_RELEASES)
OxyContin abuse causes problems such as doctor “shopping”, illicit supply by “pill mills”, and has led to an increase in drug related crime, particularly pharmacy robbery.
People have branded OxyContin as nothing more than legal heroin. Its addictive and fatal properties have been reported upon and recorded in many countries. People speak out about their suffering as a result of addiction to oxy.
True Pain Relief
True pain relief and recovery only comes with natural healing. Allopathic drugs like OxyContin support continued pain. We suffer not only the pain of our original injury, but the additional pain of addiction when we choose to use narcotic drugs instead of natural, therapeutic options for pain management and recovery.
Narconon offers an OxyContin addiction treatment program that help addicts to stop their addiction naturally and without the use of any drug.
It is possible to life a happy life without drugs.
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