Monthly Archives: April 2011

Third time’s the charm: Purdue sues again for OxyContin patent

For the third time in two months, Purdue Pharma is suing the makers of a generic version of OxyContin over patent rights. According to this article from the Economic Times, Purdue filed suit against India’s Ranbaxy Laboratories for its low-cost version of the opioid painkiller. Purdue currently holds exclusive rights on its $3 billion-per-year patent for OxyContin, which expires in April 2013, and has been notoriously litigious in protecting that exclusivity.

Read more about Purdue’s recent suits against Watson Pharmaceuticals and Impax Laboratories.

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Oxy addiction shows up in reality TV with devastating effects

Hank Tolers from "Coal" on Spike TV

In case there was any doubt about the pervasive effects of Oxy abuse in modern culture, reality TV show “Coal” on Spike TV featured a story about a miner addicted to oxycodone last week. During the show, which follows miners with Cobalt Coal in West Virginia, CEO Mike Crowder discovered miner Hank Toler was taking painkillers without a prescription. Like many who are addicted to narcotics, Toler became hooked on the drug after an injury in 2004 and was unable to quit despite his attempts with suboxone, a low-dosage opiate that is often used to treat OxyContin and heroin addiction. Unfortunately for Toler, his inability to address his addiction cost him his job and he was fired by the end of the episode.

“Coal” airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on Spike TV. To see the full episode, go here.

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White House takes action to reduce prescription drug abuse

Acknowledging America’s prescription drug abuse epidemic, the White House released a plan today to reduce the rate of abuse by 15 percent within five years. According to this article from MedPage Today, the reduction will primarily be achieved by educating patients and doctors on the proper use and prescribing of painkillers such as OxyContin. In addition to supporting prescription drug monitoring programs, take-back days, and further education of patients and healthcare providers, the plan also suggests the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will move forward with a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (REMS) which was rejected in 2010.

The REMS will require drug companies to provide further training and materials to physicians prescribing the drugs. According to the article, the plan precedes a similar bill which will be introduced to Congress and would require physicians to undergo training provided by pharmaceutical companies in order to write prescriptions for extended-release prescription narcotics.

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Purdue continues to protect $3 billion patent on OxyContin

Purdue Pharma and their old foe Impax Laboratories will once again face off over a generic version of OyxContin. According to this report from the San Francisco Business Times, Purdue challenged Impax’s drug application for its opiate-based painkiller filed this week.  Back in 2007, Purdue and Impax reached a settlement which allowed Impax to sell its generic drug in limited amounts after Impax and other pharmaceutical companies claimed Purdue’s stringent patent claims were unenforceable. This comes just weeks after Purdue filed a similar suit against Watson Laboratories.

Read about other OxyContin spin-offs here.

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‘One last hit’ for former Oxy addict leads to death, awareness

“OxyContin In Your Words” stories are unedited accounts of OxyContin and heroin addiction. Help us break through the shame of addiction and share your own story. Confidentiality, if requested, is assured.

I’d like to share my son Jeremy’s story in the hopes that maybe his story will help someone else who is dealing with an addiction to either Oxy or anything else or if you have lost someone from OxyContin.

Jeremy entered the drug scene pretty much the usual way most kids do. He started drinking alcohol on the weekends at friend’s houses when he was around 15 or 16 years old. It wasn’t causing any noticeable problems with him or his school and grades. We didn’t even know about it at the time. Then when he was around 16 years old, he started smoking pot while drinking. When he was first caught with weed on him, as parents, we did the usual things parents do when they find out their kid is smoking pot. We talked about the dangers of it and how it is the “gateway” to other drugs. We grounded him and took away his car. (Looking back I laugh at that. Like that was going to work if a kid wants to do something.) Jeremy made all the good sounding promises to us about never doing it again.

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Oxy abuse trend leading to opiate-addicted babies

Newborns being born addicted to painkillers is yet another disturbing trend stemming from the rampant abuse of prescription drugs, particularly opiates such as OxyContin. According to this article from the New York Times, babies born addicted to these drug pose new challenges, since the long-term effects of opiate addiction aren’t clear. Though infants experience painful withdrawals for their first few weeks of life and treating them is expensive, it’s also dangerous for a woman to stop using the drugs suddenly during pregnancy.

Read about birth defects caused by opiate abuse here.

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UW claims pain group doesn’t accept industry funds

So, about that Pain and Policy Group at the University of Wisconsin – the one that allegedly received $1.6 million from OxyContin maker Purdue in exchange for lobbying for the de-regulation of narcotic pain medicine? After an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/MedPage blew its cover, the University’s chancellor was bombarded with requests to shut the group down. Guess what? The chancellor now claims the group no longer accepts funding from industry involved in the sale and marketing of opioids – a decision that was *supposedly* made before the media expose.

Doubts abound – but at least it’s one less outlet to be used by Purdue as a sounding board.

Read the chancellor’s response to Pete Jackson, the president of Advocates for the Reform of Prescription Opioids, here.

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Congressional hearing on prescription drug abuse

We told you last week about the Congressional hearing set to take place tomorrow that is being spearheaded by Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Ca., on the topic of prescription drug abuse in general, with a specific focus on OxyContin. If you’re in the D.C. area, you can attend the hearing at 8:00 am in Room 2183 of the Rayburn House Office Building, next to the U.S. Capitol. Or you can watch it online here.

View complete hearing details here, including a background memo.

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Watch it: ‘Hillbilly heroin’ Intervention episode

The popular TV show Intervention has done several shows on OxyContin. Check out the latest episode here.

In relevant part: “OxyContin is essentially heroin, just made in a lab, and because it’s pharmaceutically pure, it’s even more addictive.”

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Take action: UW Pain and Policy Group

Last week we wrote about the University of Wisconsin’s Pain and Policy Group, which lobbies for the de-regulation of narcotic pain medicine. The group has come under fire for receiving millions of dollars of funding from companies like Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, according to a new investigation by Journal Sentinel/MedPage.

Some advocacy groups are now calling on Chancellor Biddy Martin to shut down the group. Here’s what to do if you’d like to weigh in:

  1. Email the chancellor or call (608) 262-9946. Here is a sample letter from Pete Jackson, the president of Advocates for the Reform of Prescription Opioids.
  2. Call your U.S. and Wisconsin legislative offices: Sen. Herb Kohl, (202) 224-5653; Sen. Ron Johnson, (202) 224-5325. To find your U.S. Congressional Representative’s office, enter your zip code here. To find your Wisconsin state legislators, go here.
  3. Explain to the staffer who answers the phone that you’’re calling about an article that appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on April 2 about UW’’s Pain and Policy Study Group.
  4. If the staffer is unfamiliar with the article, ask them for their email address so you can send them the link to it.
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