| With the consent of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Purdue Pharma was allowed to promote its drug OxyContin as providing pain relief for 12 hours.
1996 – When the Opioid Addiction Epidemic Began
Many health officials trace the current opioid epidemic in the U.S. to the Purdue company’s 1996 launch of OxyContin.
The federal government’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates that 7 million Americans have become addicted to OxyContin since it came on the market.
And since 1999, more than 190,000 people have died from overdoses involving OxyContin and other prescription opioids.
OxyContin- A Marketing Success Story
OxyContin became America’s bestselling painkiller, and gave Purdue $31 billion in revenue. During the past two decades, OxyContin earned its manufacturer, Purdue Pharma, more than $31 billion. But while it was making the company and its owners (the Sackler family) very, very rich, the drug was also becoming one of the most abused prescription drugs in U.S. history.
OxyContin’s success in sales masked a fundamental problem: it does not last for 12 hours in most patients. The drug wears off hours early in many people, a Los Angeles Times investigation found. OxyContin is a chemical cousin of heroin, and when the dosage wears off, patients can experience excruciating symptoms of withdrawal, including an intense craving for the drug.
This offers new insight into why so many people have become addicted to OxyContin, one of the most abused pharmaceuticals in U.S. history.
Opioid Painkiller Addiction Epidemic – the Introduction
From the 1996 PR Newswire Press Release for Oxycontin – Published in the ‘Financial’ Category by the Purdue Company. Read the entire Press Release.
OxyContin: the first and only 12 hour oxycodone analgesic New OxyContin is a significant advance in the treatment of persistent pain. Millions of Americans suffer from moderate to severe chronic pain serious enough to have an impact on their lives. Among the most common causes of persistent, debilitating pain are arthritis, lower back conditions, injuries and cancer. For example, more than eight million Americans are permanently disabled by back pain with 65,000 new cases diagnosed each year….
Unlike short-acting pain medications, which must be taken every 3 to 6 hours often on an “as needed” basis OxyContin Tablets are taken every 12 hours, providing smooth and sustained pain control all day and all night. Dosing with OxyContin Tablets on a regular schedule spares patients from anxious “clock watching” when pain must be controlled over long periods.
Twice daily dosing simplifies and improves patients’ lives “The importance of pain control with twice daily dosing can’t be stressed strongly enough,” reported Paul D. Goldenheim, M.D., Vice President of Purdue Pharma. “…Now, with every twelve hour OxyContin dose, many patients may experience pain relief and may enjoy daytime activities and nighttime rest without the inconvenience of taking tablets every four to six hours. Moreover, we’ve discovered that the simplicity and convenience of twice daily dosing also enhances patient compliance with their doctor’s instructions.”
Patient benefits demonstrated in clinical studies In clinical trials of OxyContin Tablets, involving more than 700 patients, key findings included:
• Onset of pain relief occurred within 1 hour for most patients.
• 12 hours of smooth and sustained pain control were provided by OxyContin Tablets.
• Common opioid related side effects (except constipation) diminished over time, even as daily doses increased.
• By relieving their pain, OxyContin improved patients’ quality of life, mood and sleep, as compared to placebo treatment.
“Because of its effectiveness and good acceptability to patients, our studies suggest that OxyContin is an ideal choice in progressive pain management when around the clock therapy is indicated,” added Dr. Goldenheim.
Purdue Aggressive Marketing of Oxycontin
Purdue is the company that created Oxycontin and aggressively marketed it. Sales of OxyContin took off because Purdue claimed that one dose would relieve pain for 12 hours — twice as long as the lower-costing generic painkillers available at the time. That would save patients from waking up in the night to take a pill. Health care professionals are now painfully aware that Oxycontin claims were vastly over-stated.
From the Department of Health and Human Services, HHS.gov, Health Professionals Resources, Opioids.
Prescribing guidelines for opioids need to be improved, opioid addiction treatment options must be expanded, and access to illegal opioids must be reduced.
- Improve opioid prescribing to reduce exposure to opioids, prevent abuse, and stop addiction.
- Expand access to evidence-based substance abuse treatment, such as Medication-Assisted Treatment, for people already struggling with opioid addiction.
- Expand access and use of naloxone – a safe antidote to reverse opioid overdose.
- Promote the use of state prescription drug monitoring programs, which give health care providers information to improve patient safety and prevent abuse.
- Implement and strengthen state strategies that help prevent high-risk prescribing and prevent opioid overdose.
- Improve detection of the trends of illegal opioid use by working with state and local public health agencies, medical examiners and coroners, and law enforcement.
Recipe for Addiction
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.”
LA Times OxyContin Investigative Reporting http://static.latimes.com/oxycontin-part1
OxyContin’s 12-hour problem https://www.minnpost.com/second-opinion/2016/05/oxycontins-12-hour-problem-and-its-central-role-prescription-opioid-epidemic
This article, written by Kenneth Chance, originally appeared here on the Arrowhead Lodge site Kenneth Chance is the founder and CEO/President of Arrowhead Lodge Recovery.Share ...
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