Posts Tagged OxyContin
Saturday, July 21, 2012
By: J. D. Heyes
[NaturalNews] Is the suggestion that the so-called “War on Drugs,” begun in the early 1980s, has turned out to be a complete failure? Not really, when you consider the connection between Big Pharma and the illicit drug trade.
What? You didn’t know there even was a connection? Well, there is, and if anything, maybe it could even be said that current Big Pharma and other accepted medical practices have worsened the illicit drug industry.
It stems from a concerted effort within the medical community to curb abuse of the powerful painkiller Oxycontin. While that effort looks like it is succeeding, what it mostly succeeding in doing is pushing former users to an equally powerful, though illegal, replacement: Heroin.
The formula of Oxycontin has been changed to prevent its abuse by crushing and snorting it, or by dissolving it in water and injecting it. That said, there hasn’t been much progress in dealing with patients who become opioid-addicts.
Consider what one scientist, Dr. Theodore J. Cicero, vice chair of research at Washington University’s department of psychiatry in St. Louis, has to say about the subject.
“We’re now seeing reports from across the country of large quantities of heroin appearing in rural and suburban areas,” he said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “Unable to use OxyContin easily, which was a very popular drug in rural and suburban areas, drug abusers who prefer snorting or IV drug administration now have shifted to more potent opioids if they can find them, or to heroin.
Two-thirds reverted to heroin – Hurray for the war on drugs
Cicero and another researcher from Washington University, along with a third from Nova Southeastern University in Coral Gables, Fla., surveyed 2,566 people between July 2010 and March 31, 2012, who had sought treatment for abuse of, or dependence on, opioid drugs. The goal of the research was to see how their habits had changed.
The team also interviewed 103 of those who anonymously filled out surveys, to extrapolate their findings. The surveys came from 150 different treatment centers in 39 states.
The team found that the reformation of the Oxycontin formula had worked, to a point. Some two years after the new formula was introduced and the old formula discarded, only 12.8 percent of the survey sample said Oxycontin was their drug of choice, down from 35.6 percent at the start of the research cycle.
Among the smaller group, 24 percent of those seeking treatment reported finding a way around the measures aimed at reducing abuse of Oxycontin.
Perhaps the most alarming finding; though, was that 66 percent of the sample population said they had moved on from OxyContin to a new drug, the most common of which was heroin. In fact, the number of those reporting having taken heroin in the previous 30 days doubled.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
By: Ethan A. Huff
[NaturalNews] Purdue Pharma LP, the pharmaceutical company responsible for developing the highly addictive painkiller drug OxyContin (oxycodone), is so desperate to retain exclusivity on the soon-to-expire patent rights for its drug that it has decided to conduct clinical trials with OxyContin on young children. According to theWall Street Journal (WSJ), more than 150 children between the ages of six and 16 will participate in the multi-site trial, which will be used solely to extend OxyContin’s exclusive patent by a mere six months.
Set to expire in April 2013, the patent rights for OxyContin have been a financial goldmine for Purdue, as the drug just last year generated more than $2.8 billion in sales. And with numerous other drug companies chomping at the bit to begin manufacturing their own generic versions of OxyContin, which would obviously be sold for far less than the original formula, Purdue is feverishly trying to protect its cash cow by whatever means necessary.
In this case, that means taking advantage of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s pediatric testing incentive for drugs, which offers six-month patent extensions to drug companies who conduct clinical trial on children after those drugs have been approved. The FDA, in other words, is actually encouraging drug companies to test oftentimes dangerous and highly addictive drugs on children by dangling a patent extension carrot in front of their noses.
Why does the FDA do this? According to the agency, testing drugs on children helps to bridge the “pediatric knowledge gap” of how drugs that are approved for adults perform in children. Since doctors often prescribe drugs “off label” to children, the FDA considers aftermarket testing on children to be beneficial for society (http://www.fda.gov).
FDA patent extensions benefit drug companies, not society
In reality, however, the FDA’s six-month patent extension incentive benefits only drug companies rather than society at large. OxyContin, after all, is not even approved for use in children, and Purdue admittedly has no intention of trying to gain FDA approval for the drug’s use in children. The only reason Purdue is conducting the trial is to gain the extension, which will generate for the company far more in profits than the cost of conducting the trial and filing the FDA paperwork.
Meanwhile, the test children, which will literally be used as human guinea pigs, will be exposed to a drug that has been shown to be more addictive than hard street drugs like cocaine and heroin. Individuals that take OxyContin for prolonged periods of time, especially children, are also highly susceptible to extreme withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the drug.
Prescription opioid painkillers like OxyContin are also extremely deadly, outstripping the number of deaths caused by cocaine and heroine combined by nearly 300 percent (http://www.naturalnews.com/024765_drug_drugs_DEA.html). According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as 40 Americans die every single day, which translates into about 15,000 per year, as a result of overdosing on prescription painkillers like OxyContin (http://abcnews.go.com).
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Health professionals anticipate extremely dangerous mass withdrawals as Canadian OxyContin ban takes effect
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
By: Jonathan Benson
[NaturalNews] Beginning March 1, 2012, the controversial painkiller drug OxyContin (oxycodone) will no longer be available for prescription in Canada. Numerous media sources report that Health Canada has officially nixed the drug, which is an opioid-based drug similar to heroin, because of widespread abuse, particularly among Canada’s First Nations, which are aboriginal nations in Canada similar to Native American reservations in the U.S.
Since traditional OxyContin pills, which are easily crushable and abused by drug addicts, were first introduced in Canada in 2000, painkiller-related deaths spiked a whopping 41 percent according to MinnPost (http://www.minnpost.com). And in some First Nation areas of Canada, as many as 50 percent of local residents are now addicted to the drug, an escalating epidemic that prompted the idea of a ban in the first place (http://www.thefix.com/content/mass-withdrawal-oxycontin-canada9783).
But with the ban comes concerns that massive withdrawals will occur as addicts will no longer have access to this drug of choice. And some say that those hit hardest by such withdrawals will have limited or no access to appropriate treatment centers, which will lead them to seek out alternatives like heroin on the black market.
For legitimate users of OxyContin who take it for pain under prescription, Purdue Pharma Canada, the drug company that had been producing OxyContin, says it will now sell “OxyNEO” in its place. OxyNEO is reportedly much harder to crush or liquefy, which means abusers will allegedly not have much success trying to abuse it as part of their drug habit. But others say there is no evidence that the drug’s reinvention will reduce abuse rates.
“There is currently no evidence available to determine that these (new) formulations lead to a reduction of prescription opioid abuse and abuse-related harm,” said Stephane Shank, a spokesman from Health Canada, to the Toronto Sun in a recent statement (http://www.torontosun.com).
Just like with OxyContin, Health Canada will reportedly not cover OxyNEO as part of its Non-Insured Health Benefits Program, which means legitimate users living in First Nation regions will have to pay for it themselves.
Besides its widespread abuse by drug addicts and the various societal and health problems this causes, OxyContin is responsible for killing more people than illegal drugs do. A 2008 report compiled by the Florida Medical Examiners Commission found that prescription drugs are responsible for causing three times as many deaths as illegal drugs do — and the bulk of these prescription drug-related deaths are caused by painkillers like OxyContin (http://www.naturalnews.com/024765_drug_drugs_DEA.html).
Doctor charged with murder in overdose of multiple patients, prescribed over 27,000 medications in three years
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
By: Ethan A. Huff
[NaturalNews] A California doctor accused of carelessly dispensing prescription drugs to patients who may not necessarily have needed them is facing murder charges following the deaths of several of these patients. The U.K.’s Daily Mail reports that Dr. Hsiu-Ying Tseng, 42, prescribed more than 27,000 medications to patients over a three-year period, which translates into an average of 25 prescriptions a day, which resulted in several of their deaths.
Vu Nguyen, 29, of Lake Forest; Steven Ogle, 25, of Palm Desert; and Joseph Rovero III, 21, of San Ramon all met their fate after obtaining prescriptions from Tseng for various pain and anxiety symptoms. According to records held by the Osteopathic Medical Board, Tseng failed to properly examine these three young men in accordance with care guidelines, and proceeded to just give them the dangerous drugs for no medical reason.
The prescription opiate drugs oxycodone (OxyContin) and hydrocodone (Vicodin) were among those linked to the men’s deaths, as were certain benzodiazepine drugs and the anti-anxiety drug Xanax. But because Tseng allegedly already knew that her prescribing methods were linked to causing patient deaths prior to the more recent deaths, prosecutors have charged her with second-degree murder and 21 other felony counts related to prescribing prescription drugs for no legitimate medical need.
“This case was beyond anything else we have ever seen,” said Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley in a statement, noting that the case was heavily investigated prior to the serious charges being filed. “Dr. Feelgoods who knowingly over-prescribe drugs for no medical reason other than someone asks for the drugs and pays the doctor a staggering amount of money will be dealt with severely” (http://latimesblogs.latimes.com).
Tseng is currently being held on $3 million bail. If convicted, she could face life in prison.
In a similar case, Dr. Harriston L. Bass, Jr. of Las Vegas was recently arrested for murder after a patient to which he sold prescription drugs died. In that case, the Nevada Attorney General’s office conducted a thorough investigation for six months before levying the same second-degree murder charge that Tseng received, as well as 21 counts of sale of a controlled substance, and six counts of possession for the sale of a controlled substance (http://www.8newsnow.com).
“There’s a new prosecutorial focus on these pill mills, which are doctors that are creating a cottage industry of addicts,” added Steven Clark, a legal analyst from South Bay, Calif., about such cases (http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com).
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
By: David Gutierrez
[NaturalNews] With addictive painkiller OxyContin being phased out in Canada, health experts are calling for a national strategy to confront prescription painkiller abuse.
OxyContin is the most well known form of the narcotic painkiller oxycodone (technically, oxycodone hydrochloride). Like other opioid drugs such as morphine and heroin, oxycodone has high addictive potential. Although OxyContin is designed to foil potential addicts by releasing its active ingredient slowly over time, abusers have taken to chewing the pills or crushing and then smoking, snorting, or even mixing them with water and then injecting them. As with many narcotic drugs, withdrawal from oxycodone can be potent, making addiction even more of a difficult trap to escape.
Even aside from the risks of addiction, oxycodone can dangerously impair judgment and attention, and may be lethal if mixed with alcohol.
Oxycodone is marketed under a variety of names, including Dazidox, Endocodone, ETH-Oxydose, M-Oxy, Oxyfast, OxyIR, Percolone, Roxicodone and Supeudol. It can also be purchased combined with other painkillers, under names such as Endocet, Oxycocet and Percocet.
Due to high rates of abuse, the Canadian government ordered an end to OxyContin manufacture in Canada. In response, Purdue Pharma has unveiled a substitute drug, OxyNeo. The new pill is designed to be hard to crush, and turns into a thick, uninjectable gel when added to liquid.
“Having received a notice of compliance from Health Canada in August 2011, OxyNEO will be replacing OxyContin on the Canadian market,” Purdue said.
Each Canadian province must now decide whether to cover OxyNeo under its public insurance plan. Most recently, Ontario decided that current OxyContin patients will continue to receive the drug for only one more month, up until April 2 at the latest. At that point, they will be eligible to receive OxyNeo for up to a year. After a year, all patients must receive approval from the Exceptional Access Program to keep taking the drug.
Addiction experts welcomed Ontario’s decision and called for a nationwide strategy to combat narcotic painkiller abuse.
More restrictive funding of OxyContin and OxyNeo is a “very positive thing overall,” said Irfan Dhalla of Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital, whose research has shown that insurance funding of OxyContin in 2000 corresponded with a rapid increase in opioid-related deaths. “[It's] not going to solve the problem by itself, but it’s a major step forward.”
Benedikt Fischer of Simon Fraser University noted that Ontario’s new measures might be sabotaged if other provinces do not follow suit.
“Let’s say in Manitoba or in Quebec, the restrictions aren’t there, there’s a much higher supply and there’s a great black market demand in Ontario, it’s quite possible the stuff will come in from the neighboring provinces,” Fischer said. “It’s one reason why approaches to those kinds of measures in Canada should really be harmonized across the board.”
Some provinces have chosen not to fund OxyNeo at all, while others remain undecided.
Fischer also warned that the problem of narcotic abuse is bigger than any one drug.
“One thing that’s for sure is that those people who have dependence will not suddenly be cured of their dependence because of OxyContin disappearing,” he said. “Those people who have dependence or are inclined to abuse will continue to do so, they will just have to adapt to the situation.”
Abuse of prescription drugs has been a growing problem in recent years, as prescription drugs have become easier for many people to obtain than street drugs. A review of nearly 170,000 autopsies conducted in Florida in 2007 showed that prescription drugs caused three times as many deaths as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines combined.
The Quiet Epidemic: prescription drug abuse destroys millions of lives
The Baltimore Sun
There isn’t much attention paid to prescription drug abuse, except perhaps when a Hollywood star dies from an overdose. However, it is estimated that nearly one in five Americans has used prescription drugs for nonmedicinal reasons, and 15 percent may be abusing prescription drugs. This silent epidemic has become the leading cause of addiction.
This week, the Maryland Chapter of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence and the University of Maryland Medical Center sponsored the annual Tuerk Conference, a gathering of 1,200 health professionals working in the field of addictions to focus on treatment and prevention of prescription drug abuse. Confronting and debunking the common myth that prescription drugs are less deadly and less addictive was one of the items on the agenda.
The dangers of prescription drug abuse are growing at an exponential rate. Between 1992 and 2002, the number of prescriptions written increased by 61 percent, but the number of prescriptions written for opiates increased by almost 400 percent. Opiates reflect three-quarters of all prescription drugs abused. Actor Heath Ledger had Vicodin (hydrocodone), OxyContin (oxycodone), Valium (diazepam), and Xanax (alprazolam) in his bloodstream when he died. All are legal opiates.
According to a report this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hospitalizations for poisoning by prescription opioids, sedatives and tranquilizers jumped 65 percent from 1999 to 2006. One-third of new addicts report that their first drug experience was with prescription drugs.