Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, settled litigation with the federal government in 2007 for “misbranding” OxyContin as less addictive than other narcotics and paid $637 million in fines. “Purdue Pharma accepted full responsibility for the actions some of its colleagues took during a period that ended in 2001,” the company said in a statement. “Since then we’ve dedicated ourselves to combating prescription drug abuse, most significantly by formulating OxyContin and other pain medications with abuse-deterrent properties.” Due to the settlement the state of Kentucky was offered $500,000 but refused and decided to sue Purdue Pharma on it’s own. Purdue is accused in the civil suit filed by the state of Kentucky of actions that helped create addiction on a sweeping scale. The state alleges that many of the abusers went on crime sprees to feed their OxyContin habits and ended up in jail, in public treatment facilities, or dead from overdoses. The company denies all claims. Apparently the abuse of OxyContin in the Bluegrass State was so bad pharmacies put up bullet proof glass and trucks believed to be shipping OxyContin were being “knocked off.”
Oxycontin is an opiate used to commonly treat chronic pain but as we all know opiates can be highly addictive and easily abused. In the beginning, the initial form of Oxycontin was easily crushed and used for a quick high, in rural areas it was refereed to as “Hillbilly Heroin.” In 2010 Purdue Pharma was able to create a form of Oxycontin that is tamper resistant and thus less likely to be abused as easily as it was in its first form. The Kentucky suit claims that sales representatives misled doctors and others into believing that the earlier form of OxyContin didn’t produce a “buzz” and was less addictive than shorter-acting drugs. It alleges the company concealed information about the dangers of OxyContin. The 12 claims against the company include Medicaid fraud, false advertising, creating a public nuisance, and unjust enrichment. Due to a series of losses in courtroom motions the suit is progressing and could cost Purdue Pharma upwards of $1Billion.
I bring this up on the heels of my recent posts on chronic pain to further highlight the fact that pharmaceutical management is not the best option to manage non-cancerous chronic pain alone. Perhaps the easiest because there is little effort in taking a pill, but not the best way to manage non-cancerous chronic pain. This statement paper on opiates was published by the American Academy of Neurology concludes that the risk for using opiates to manage pain due to spine related conditions, headache, and fibromyalgia is greater than the reward. In this case Purdue Pharma has already pleaded guilty for misbranding OxyContin in 2007, I read this as they knew they were promoting the drug in a manner that was inconsistent with the evidence. It is my opinion that we cannot trust pharmaceutical marketing to be honest, this is a clear case and there are others, so it is on us to do our due diligence and research our options before agreeing to most pharmaceutical management of a condition.
There are far better options for long term management of chronic pain than opiate use. I firmly believe that chiropractic care, and specifically posture correction chiropractic care, should be the first line treatment for chronic pain. If you are suffering from chronic pain do not settle for pharmaceutical management alone as your treatment choice, the evidence is not supportive of that due to limited effectiveness and severe side effects. There is strong evidence to support chiropractic care to be effective to treat chronic back pain with little to no side effects.