Purdue Pharma will stop marketing OxyContin to doctors and has eliminated more than half of its sales force (Jay & Perrone, 2018). Sales representatives will no longer go to doctors’ offices to discuss the opioid drugs (Jay & Perrone, 2018). The company has been criticized for contributing to the opioid epidemic (Correll, 2018). From 1999 to 2016, more than 200,000 people have died in the United States from overdoses related to prescription opioids (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018). In the United States 40% of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid and sales of prescription opioids have quadrupled (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018).
In 2016 more than 46 people died every day from prescription opioid overdoses. Overdose rates were highest among the 25- to 54-years-old age group (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018). Many people who receive prescription opioids for non-cancer pain struggle with addiction. Over 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018).
OxyContin is one of the most common drugs involved in prescription opioid overdose deaths. The drug is a version of oxycodone and was approved to be used in late-1995 (Jay & Perrone, 2018). OxyContin is an opioid pain medication used to treat moderate to severe pain (Drugs.com, 2018). The drug is also used for ongoing treatment of pain; it works over 12 hours to maintain a steady level of comfort for the patient.
Some users of the drug started crushing the pills and snorting or injecting the entire dose at once (Jay & Perrone, 2018). As a result the company reformulated OxyContin to make it harder to crush and stopped selling the original form of the drug (AP, 2018).
There are lawsuits against Purdue Pharma and other pharmaceutical distributors and drug makers claiming they are contributing to the drug overdose epidemic. The lawsuits claim drug makers misled doctors and patients about the risks of opioids by emphasizing more of the benefits of the drug instead of the risks (Jay & Perrone, 2018). State and local government are seeking changes to how the industry operates.
Purdue Pharma’s action combined with the FDA and other agencies established plans and guidelines will hopefully reduce the opioid epidemic. The FDA in response to the opioid crisis has developed an action plan to reduce the opioid abuse. The action plan will expand the use of an expert advisory committee that will convene before approving any New Drug Application for an opioid that does not have abuse deterrent properties (Food & Drug Administration, 2018). The committee will make recommendations regarding labeling before any new labeling is approved. This will give doctors better information about the risks and how to prescribe safely.
The FDA is strengthening requirements for drug companies to generate data on the long term impact of using opioids. Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) is another part of the action plan that will focus on increasing the number of prescribers who receive training on pain management and the safe way to prescribe opioid drugs (Food & Drug Administration, 2018). Also under the plan, the FDA will expand access to abuse deterrent formulations to stop abuse and support better treatment by making naloxone more accessible. The organization will reassess the risk benefits approval framework. The FDA opioid action plan will help make product and labeling decisions, seek improvement in treatment of both addiction and pain, and examine the risk benefits paradigm for opioids (Food & Drug Administration, 2018).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain. The guidelines provide recommendations about the appropriate prescribing of prescription opioids and other treatment options to improve pain management and patient safety (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018).
For more information on this topic please read “Company behind OxyContin will stop promoting opioid drugs to doctors.”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). Prescription Opioid Overdose Data. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/overdose.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/prescribing/resources.html
Correll, D.S. (2018). Company behind OxyContin will stop promoting opioid drugs to doctors. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/company-behind-oxycontin-will-stop-promoting-opioid-drugs-to-doctors/article/2648728
Drugs.com. (2018). OxyContin. Retrieved from https://www.drugs.com/oxycontin.htm
Food & Drug Administration. (2018). FDA Opioids Action Plan. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drugsafety/informationbydrugclass/ucm484714.htm
Jay, M., Perrone, M. (2018, February 11). OxyContin maker will stop opioid promotion. The Associated Press, The Fayetteville Observer, pp A1, A7.