Monthly Archives: October 2011

OxyContin Activists: The Rubin Family

The Rubins were once a typical suburban family in San Diego, Calif., but that existence was shattered when Sherrie and Mike’s then-23-year-old son Aaron overdosed on OxyContin on Oct. 5, 2005. Many Oxy overdose victims either die, or recover and continue to battle their addiction. But Aaron was thrust into a different kind of living hell. A loss of oxygen to his brain had brought him to the brink of death, and after suffering a series of heart attacks and strokes, doctors had nearly given up hope. Miraculously, Aaron survived. Now confined to a wheelchair, Aaron is 29 and can no longer walk or speak. He can only communicate using his fingers, using one for yes, and two for no. The Rubins are committed to spreading the word about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. They founded an organization, H.O.P.E Drug Awareness, Education and Treatment Inc., that provides support for families needing early intervention in overcoming addictions to prescription drugs and/or heroin. They also travel the country giving presentations to students and parents, using Aaron’s story as an example. Oxy Watchdog spoke with Mike (far right in picture) and Sherrie (third from left, next to Aaron, in wheelchair) about their journey.

Posted in Informational, Rx Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New study links pills to rise in teen heroin addiction

Heroin use among young, white suburban users has risen dramatically over the last decade, fueled in part by an increase in addiction to prescription painkillers like OxyContin, a new study has found. In 2008, over 900,000 12-to-17 year olds began abusing prescription pain pills, and initiations to heroin have increased 80% since 2002, according to the study. There’s evidence, too, that pills are perceived as somehow “cleaner” or “safer” than hardcore street drugs like heroin: one-third of the study’s participants were dependent on opioid pills before transitioning to heroin, and “pill users’ perception of heroin use were softened (e.g. they were less scared to try it) once they realized the connection between opioid pills and heroin,” the study found. In addition, the majority of heroin interviewees “had little or no education regarding heroin use and dependency” – which is especially disturbing given that over 50% of heroin-dependent persons will be dead before the age of 50, the study says. And participants “reported relatively high disapproval of heroin use but comparatively low disapproval of using opiate pills…[they] were not necessarily clear about the linkage between opiate pills and heroin.”

Posted in Informational, Surveys & Statistics, Trends | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blast from the past: Purdue’s shady marketing tactics

Though it was written nearly eight years ago, the Government Accountability Office’s report on Purdue Pharma’s aggressive marketing and promotion of OxyContin is no less shocking today. The company’s nefarious tactics included a patient starter coupon program for OxyContin to provide patients with a free limited-time prescription, promotional videos containing the unsubstantiated claim that opioid analgesics have been shown to cause addiction in less than 1 percent of patients, and several types of branded promotional items, including “OxyContin fishing hats, stuffed plush toys, coffee mugs with heat-activated messages, music compact discs, luggage tags, and pens containing a pullout conversion chart showing physicians how to calculate the dosage to convert a patient to OxyContin from other opioid pain relievers,” according to the report. Indeed, Purdue’s annual spending for OxyContin advertisements increased from about $700,000 in 1996 to about $4.6 million in 2001, the report says.

It’s alarming to read this dated report knowing that four years later, Purdue pled guilty in federal court and paid $634.5 million for its actions. It’s even more alarming that the company continued to market OxyContin in its original formulation and didn’t reformulate the drug until 2010 to supposedly make it less abusable. And it’s pretty sickening to remember, in detail, the lengths pharmaceutical industry is willing to go to in order to boost sales of its products, no matter the human costs.

Posted in Crime, Informational, Pharmaceutical Industry, Surveys & Statistics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pill production quotas rising amid addiction epidemic

Pharmaceutical companies like to claim they’re addressing the prescription drug addiction epidemic head-on, in part by reformulating addictive painkillers like OxyContin to make the drugs less abusable (more on that here). But this claim seems questionable given that they are continually asking the Drug Enforcement Agency for higher production quotas, which are based on the expected need for such medications. For example, this year’s production quota for oxycodone manufactured for sale is 105.5 million kilograms, up from 94 million in 2009 and 70 million in 2008, according to this article. The DEA says it has bolstered its oversight of Big Pharma, but given the prevalence of pill addiction, why is the agency signing off on MORE drugs, not less?

Posted in Informational, Pharmaceutical Industry, Trends | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment