Back at the end of the last century, a wonder drug was introduced that promised to end pain without risk of nasty side effects. The drug, OxyContin, was aggressively marketed by manufacturer Purdue Pharma; they even made a video featuring seven users who lauded OxyContin.
Fast forward just fourteen years. The video has disappeared. Two of the seven are dead; they were abusing opioids when they died. Another was also addicted, but overcame her addiction. Three still believe the drug helped them and one wouldn’t respond to questions posed by a reporter looking to find out the fate of the seven.
It’s a short and utterly devastating piece.
In the original Purdue OxyContin marketing video, a paid physician claimed the drug resulted in addiction in less than 1 percent of cases. Later, he acknowledged that his statement wasn’t based on any long-term studies. And that’s just one of the litany of errors, misstatements, exaggerations, and outright falsehoods.
The best evidence we have now indicates from 3% to 40% of long term users are at high risk for addiction.
OxyContin and other Schedule II drugs do have their place. They have helped many deal with acute pain. They have also directly caused today’s opioid crisis and the explosive growth in heroin use.
Purdue’s quarterly revenues for OxyContin are about the same as the one-time fine they paid to settle a federal criminal case; with total revenues for the drug in excess of $7 billion, there’s no question it has been hugely profitable for Purdue and its shareholders.
What does this mean for you?
There’s a rather uncomfortable question lurking here. The American health care system is in large part driven by profit-making entities.
One can make a compelling case that the opioid crisis is directly related to the profit motive. Yes, our convoluted regulatory process is involved, as is the tortuous legal process, and lobbying and politics. But all these are intended to regulate, control, ensure safety and good corporate citizenship.
In this instance, our controls have failed, and failed miserably.
Thanks to Phil Walls of myMatrixx for the heads up on this; his post can be found here.