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Zohydrogate, OxyContin, and the “Campaign of Deception”

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at June 3, 2014

You may have read in the press lately about two California counties suing the manufacturer of OxyContin for not doing enough to stem the tide of opiate abuse and in fact, alleging a “campaign of deception.”

This comes on the heels of the FDA approval last October of the new, more powerful Zohydro; Massachusetts Governor Patrick Duval¹s attempt to ban the substance in his state; and the FDA lawsuit which overturned his ban.

Now we hear from Margaret Hamburg, FDA Commission in a recent AP interview:

The FDA has faced months of criticism from elected officials, law enforcement and anti-addiction groups for approving the powerful painkiller Zohydro last October. The long-acting opioid is the first U.S.-approved pure form of hydrocodone, the most abused prescription drug ingredient in the country. Previously it was only available in lower-dose combination pills like Vicodin.

Agency critics say the FDA should have required Zohydro to be formulated in a way that would make it difficult to abuse. And last month Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin, filed for FDA approval of its own crush-resistant hydrocodone tablet. The announcement raised questions about whether the FDA might remove Zohydro from the market if it approves Purdue’s hydrocodone drug.

While I will spare everyone my rant about how Big Pharma controls the FDA (as does Food, Inc.), the fact is that our country is facing a paralyzing epidemic of substance abuse which is only getting worse, with, or without, Zohydro.

While some in the treatment industry may (quietly) celebrate more patients coming through their doors, collectively, as parents, friends, loved ones, and neighbors, cannot stand idly by and assume it is someone else¹s problem.

Ethics and integrity in the practice of substance abuse treatment has come a very long way, yet we still have a way to go. The treatment industry should be at the forefront of fighting against the release of these unnecessarily more powerful opiates into society, at least in a form which is readily abused.

Stay well, and thank you all for the good work that you do, day in and day out.

UPDATE:

Chicago sues Johnson & Johnson over marketing of opiates:

The companies and related entities engaged in a long-term campaign to alter public perceptions of the narcotics, which are classified by the U.S. as controlled substances, resulting in their increased use, increased instances of addiction and users migrating to heroin because it is less expensive and sometimes easier to obtain, according to the complaint.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-06-03/chicago-sues-drug-companies-for-pushing-prescription-opiates-1-.html

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