Oxycontin Investigation – A Pulitzer for LA Times?


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A TIMES INVESTIGATION

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Inside an L.A. OxyContin ring that pushed more than 1 million pills. What the drugmaker knew

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By HARRIET RYAN, LISA GIRION AND SCOTT GLOVER

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JULY 10, 2016

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This LA Times investigative report by Ryan, Girion and Glover is now a contender for Pulitzer Award. They expose years of passively tracking extreme volume sales by leaders at the top of Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin. While they racked up billions in sales, they tracked the surge in prescriptions from pill clinics in LA to gangs trafficking in Washington State for sale on the street. 80 mg tablets, deaths, crime, gangs, heroin – waves of heroin related crime and overdoses in cities all over the world.

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Purdue could track suspicious high volume sales of their pill:

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Until a decade ago, Purdue, like most drug manufacturers, didn’t monitor pharmacies for criminal activity. The DEA has held wholesalers, not drugmakers, responsible for identifying and reporting suspicious orders from their customer pharmacies.

In 2007, the DEA pressured drug manufacturers to do more to stem the prescription drug crisis and warned that it would be looking at every step in the supply chain. In response, Purdue decided to gather detailed information about pharmacies, Crowley said.

The company approached wholesalers and struck agreements allowing the company access to their sales reports. With the new data, the security team in Stamford could see all wholesalers’ OxyContin sales to individual pharmacies, down to the pill.

“I can look at something and say, ‘Geez, that stinks’ without me even visiting the place,” Crowley recalled.

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……What Purdue knew

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More than 194,000 people have died since 1999 from overdoses involving opioid painkillers, including OxyContin. Nearly 4,000 people start abusing those drugs every day, according to government statistics. The prescription drug epidemic is fueling a heroin crisis, shattering communities and taxing law enforcement officers who say they would benefit from having information such as that collected by Purdue.

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A private, family-owned corporation, Purdue has earned more than $31 billion from OxyContin, the nation’s bestselling painkiller.

 

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In 2015, the Week published:

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How the American opiate epidemic was started by one pharmaceutical company

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From Pacific Standard

Mike Mariani

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OxyContin’s ball-of-lightning emergence in the health care marketplace was close to unprecedented for a new painkiller in an age where synthetic opiates like Vicodin, Percocet, and Fentanyl had already been competing for decades in doctors’ offices and pharmacies for their piece of the market share of pain-relieving drugs.

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These reports must demand a Congressional investigation into Oxycontin (before and after the 2010 abuse deterrent version) and all potentially addicting drugs currently on the market, not just pain killers.

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Congress needs to address pharma’s drug trafficking, data collection, and,duty to report.

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Pharma needs to be tracking distribution not just for sales and profit, but for common sense to interrupt drug trafficking. Obviously there is no law.  Profit always wins.

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Business ethics is not good enough to justify the explosion of opioid abuse that stems from years of Oxycontin pills. Profiteering at the cost of deaths and drug abuse. Vote with your stock holdings.

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Cannabis for pain and symptom relief

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Congress has lost the average person’s respect for scheduling cannabis as Schedule 1. It is an essential medication that has been used medically, safely for thousands of years. Patients are arriving in office with the discovery that CBD, simply CBD, works for their intractable pain. That’s not exactly correct, but there is a topical cannabis mixture that can relieve malignant pain – I mean disabling, not cancer.

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Reschedule cannabis as Schedule 3 immediately. It needs to be legalized, studied and taught. When MD’s are not taught about the cardiovascular potential with THC and when patients arrive in the ER without knowing what was in the marijuana they used, our hands are tied.

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Congress owes a release to the millions jailed simply for felony cannabis possession.

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Cannabis  “to date has been responsible for the arrest of about 20 million US citizens,” written in 2010 by Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry Lester Grinspoon.

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This website is for educational purposes only, not for medical advice or treatment. It is not for email.

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Advertising below this page is an unintended feature of this free blog and is not endorsed by me.

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4 Responses to “Oxycontin Investigation – A Pulitzer for LA Times?”

  1. Bob Schubring Says:

    “Repetition is the key to belief”…Adolf Hitler.

    The key question for the CDC, is “How did you arrive at the conclusion there were 194,000 deaths in which an opioid was being used to treat the patient, and what evidence do you have of the actual cause of those deaths?”

    The sickest patients yet alive, are frequently in a lot of pain and receive medication for that pain. This creates a relationship between opioid presence and patient death. But the disease has caused both the death and the need for pain treatment. Left untreated for pain, the stress of suffering the pain would hasten death in many patients. There is not a causal relationship.

    However, the true crime against humanity that recalls the monstrous acts of Mengele and Himmler and Heydrich, is the direct effort by CDC officials, to misrepresent suicides as “opioid-related” deaths, then to encourage public policies that strip patients of pain care, thereby driving increasing numbers of patients to suicide for lack of pain relief, all the while mis-stating the increasing numbers of suicides, as reasons for further draconian measures to curtail pain care which increases further the number of suicides.

    By a careful process of excluding people with actual knowledge of this causal connection, CDC have managed to maintain this deliberate falsehood in place.

    The obvious goal of the deliberate falsehood, is to replace pain care with a policy of “assisted suicide”.

    The covert agenda at work thereunder, derives from the fact that insufficient money is available to pay for war and also to provide affordable healthcare. So encouraging people to die within a few weeks of developing a chronic illness, is a means of reducing healthcare costs, by making life intolerable for the people who might otherwise cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in surgery and rehabilitative care.

    That is the agenda behind suicide promotion.

    It is a dangerous agenda. Wielded by racists, it will be a genocidal agenda, should racists get into power.

    Self-medicating for pain, is an act of self-defense. It is protected by the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, the same amendment that protects our right to arm ourselves. It is not the right of Yale and Harvard elitists to dictate to the rest of us, who should get pain care and who should be forced to seek suicide. Truly wise and educated people, share their knowledge and inform the uninformed, so we may better govern ourselves. Truly liberally-educated people recognize that the voting public must be well-informed, so that democratic institutions may function.

    Short-cutting the democratic process is the behavior of a tyrant seeking power. Presently, that tyranny is striking at Americans in pain. We patients must not go quietly to our graves. We must speak out, to preserve representative government and the rule of law.

    • Nancy Sajben MD Says:

      Yes.
      Many of us are angry and seeing the same things. Patient this morning mentioned a young man they feared for his life, because his pain medication was lowered.

      They could as well have been talking about my wonderful patient himself, the husband. He has 100 lbs extra weight on his knees, pain is “bone-on-bone” with swelling, many kinds of pain, sciatica, radiculopathy, neuropathy, now weighs 270 lbs, and his cardiologist told him if he were not down to 180 lbs by last September 2015 — he will not change his diet, he’s “a meat and potatoes man.”

      His heart is fighting against sleep apnea and powerful drops in oxygen – oxygen that is not getting to the heart. His heart is carrying 100 lbs extra body fat. But he insists on meat and potatoes. Death comes in many ways, and you know everyone suffers when they taper opioids. Same for losing 100 lbs. But opioids kill.

      I have no choice but cut his opioid regardless of pain. He tolerated higher doses in past. But.

      Each body reaches a tipping point. When major organs are involved, it is now life or death.

      I suspect higher opioid doses used in recent past eras may have created more pain. Forever. Whether on or off them.

      I feel like I am enabling suicide no matter if I taper him down or continue current dose.

      How many of us can diet even when life is threatened? Most Americans with chronic pain accept obesity rather than change.

      But doing nothing about life or death obesity, and then leaning on opioids for pain relief is not acceptable.
      What has our culture conditioned itself to accept? Reward circuits – food is an opioid. His tall frame will be skinny at 180 lbs but his cardiac condition is dire.

  2. Jon Says:

    Good research Perdue.
    I saw an exposé in the early 2000’s about clinics in Florida prescribing 100 OxyContin with 10 refills. Then the “patient” would go to several other doctors until they had over 1000 pills, drive to New York and sell the pills at raves for $10 a pill.
    Obviously the blame lies on the dealer shopping around and the doctors prescribing rediculous amounts with TEN refills.
    My question is about the overdoses themselves. I went to a couple raves back when they were a new thing in the mid 90’s and people buying the pills weren’t consuming just the oxy’s. There is alcohol (the worst drug of them all IMO), Extacy, meth, coke, mushrooms, pot, heroin, and more. How many of the overdoses had ONLY OxyContin in their system? Most ODs come from combining drugs that are counterindicated.
    The response by authorities shows some intelligent fixes ( tracking pharmacy purchases, limiting number of refills) and some negligent ones ( scaring doctors with loss of license for prescribing a single 30 day supply of hydrocodone/Norco.
    My pain Doctor immediately stopped prescribing 5mg Norco’s the day they were rescheduled. I asked why stop when I’m still in chronic pain and he shouted at me that he was under NO OBLIGATION TO PRESCRIBE ONE SINGLE PILL!!! in the main desk in front of several doctors, patients, and staff.
    It resembles a pendulum swinging from under regulated to over regulated.
    Where is the common sense? A patient with 3 fractured vertebrae, one ruptured disc and four bulged discs, along with stenosis and facet hypertrophy who has given six clean urine analysis’ is not an addict looking for a fix. Just, once, look at my MRI’s and medical records which show I’m not an addictive patient.
    So I get 800mg Ibuprofen and Tylenol.
    My liver count has gone from excellent to a dangerous level. So I stop Tylenol and suffer a bit more.
    To wrap this up, we’ve swung from flagrant negligent overprescribing to inhumane under-medicating.
    I used to get 60 5mg Norco’s for the chronic pain and 5 5mg OxyContin for breakthrough pain, every few months we (me and my primary care physician) would drop down to 30 Norco’s and 3 Oxy’s so I wouldn’t develop too much of a tolerance.
    This would be a rough month, but overall kept me on my feet, living my life.
    Now I’m almost bedridden. Spinal stimulator implant offers no help after 19 months and my “pain management specialist” is unconcerned and will not discuss options and refuses to allow referrals and second opinions.
    The pendulum is still swinging away from pain control for real patients with real pain because of the poor life choices of a few. (Jeb Bush’s daughter ).
    These restrictions seem to come from celebrity overdoses (now that Prince has died from, apparently, Fentanyl, who are taking cocktails of multiple, unmanaged prescribing.
    So a few bad apples results in cutting down the apple tree?
    I’m well educated in pain control after 30 years of chronic pain after breaking my back when I was 15. I meditate, do cardio to get the endorphins, use a TENS unit, ice and heat therapy, do physical therapy religiously. But there are times I just need help with pain management to keep me sane and productive.
    Who is speaking for the responsible ones enduring chronic life-draining pain?

    • Nancy Sajben MD Says:

      Who is speaking?
      You just have.
      But the committee i wrote about, same day as this @ top left below my pix – the committee meets behind closed doors – they kicked off 4 people —- see if you think these people who care about pain should be kicked off.

      It’s about having a voice.
      Now it’s all one sided —THEIR side. We don’t know who they are.


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