Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
Businesses Medicine Government United States Your Rights Online

How Big Pharma Hooked America On Legal Heroin 499

pigrabbitbear writes "The active ingredient in OxyContin, oxycodone, isn't a new compound. It was originally synthesized in Germany in 1916. The patent on the medication had expired well before Purdue Pharma, a Stamford, Connecticut-based pharmaceutical company and the industry leader in pain medication, released it under the brand name in 1996. The genius of Purdue's continued foray into pain-management medication – they had already produced versions of hydromorphone, oxycodone, fentanyl, codeine, and hydrocodone – was twofold. They not only created a drug from an already readily available compound, but they were able to essentially re-patent the active ingredient by introducing a time-release element. Prior to the 1990s, strong opioid medications were not routinely given for miscellaneous or chronic, moderately painful conditions; the strongest classes of drugs were often reserved for the dying. But Purdue parlayed their time-release system not only into the patent for OxyContin. They also went on a PR blitz, claiming their drug was unique because of the time-release element and implied that it was so difficult to abuse that the risk of addiction was 'under 1%.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

How Big Pharma Hooked America On Legal Heroin

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @05:56PM (#41380167)

    The vast majority of people who are prescribed opiates do not become addicted to them. Most people who have try heroin or cocaine do not become junkies/fiends who destroy their lives in an attempt to stay high all the time. The "one hit and you're hooked for life" thing is just prohibition propaganda.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @06:08PM (#41380323)

    Note: when trying to be sensationalist, pick some element that's not already common knowledge to the people you're trying to get agitated.

    Yes. oxycodone is "legal heroin" -- i.e. a synthetic opioid that's supposedly just like heroin but safe and addiction-resistant, just as heroin was "legal morphine" -- a synthetic opioid that's supposedly just like morphine but safe and addiction-resistant. In both cases, it's not really a whole hell of a lot different (in heroin's case, it metabolizes to morphine; oxycodone is different and acts through a different receptor, so the "legal x" label is less justified), but a big pharmaceutical company persuades everyone it's safe, produces it for a while with no legal competition (because the drug is patented, and whatever drug it replaced is effectively banned), then everyone realizes it's just another opioid with all the risks you'd expect. Meanwhile, the manufacturer is rolling in profits from their restricted competition, and moves on to the next one.

    Everyone knows this -- everyone knows the odds of any drug being able to deliver effective pain relief on the order of opioids being otherwise benign and non-recreationally usable is vanishingly low. But we play along, choosing to believe the new drug really is harmless this time, because we're scared that if anyone could legally sit around getting high all day until they go broke or OD, then everyone would, and because we're not willing to ban all painkillers for people who legitimately need them -- and the drug companies play along, persuading us each new drug is as safe as we want to believe, because they make big bucks.

    It may be a lamentable state of affairs, but when everybody already knows about it, it's hardly any use for sensationalism...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @06:10PM (#41380355)

    The man made his income by giving up any semblance of a soul he had to become as close to a literal mouthpiece for a powerful political party as is possible while still being considered "human". His entire career is built around echoing talking points and riling up a voter base according to the whims of the bigwigs in the party. Nothing more. He has no opinions, he has no thoughts, he has no ideas that aren't specifically vetted by whoever's pulling his strings to make him talk and spread hate and fear over the airwaves. He made his income by being a complete tool, plain and simple, cut-and-dry.

    And you're saying that makes US feel like worthless garbage? Pfui! Looking at that man's "life" makes me more proud than ever of how my own life turned out!

  • by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @06:13PM (#41380391)
    Seriously, how twisted does one have to be to get themselves hooked on heroin, yet thinks pot and people who smoke it, is evil? And people listen to this guy.
  • Re:lies, damn lies (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @06:16PM (#41380429)

    He died from a case of stupid.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @06:22PM (#41380503)

    Why in hell would you throw away a legal supply of opiate painkillers ? You put 'em in the back of the medicine cabinet, and take them with you on camping trips and such, so if a member of your party has a real problem (crushed limbs, deep lacerations, etc.) you have something for the pain on the way back out, or (worst case) waiting for a medevac.

  • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @06:30PM (#41380575) Journal
    People who yell the loudest often have the most to hide. He's simply a drug addict who hates himself, his ego won't allow that so he projects his behavior onto others.
  • by drwho ( 4190 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @06:30PM (#41380577) Homepage Journal

    After being the victim of a serious accident, I was in an enormous amount of pain. Oxycodone was a real goddsend. Maybe it takes a soul-shattering amount of pain to really appreciate the value of this drug. Yes, there are lots of addicts - but far more people are addicted to nicotiene. These slams against 'big pharma' for the black market in this drug are counter-productive and quite maddening. Doctors are becoming afraid to prescribe painkillers because they'll be accused of being 'pill doctors', so many people who don't know they have to advocate for themselves in this situation have to suffer unnecessarily. Tip: if you get a prescription, get as many pills as you can. Save some for later, because you'll never know when the anti-drug lobby will cut off the supply.

    BTW this isn't news for nerds. Is this the new direction of Slashdot under new ownership? Rage-news in all categories, not just tech?

  • by k6mfw ( 1182893 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @06:34PM (#41380619)
    I cannot help but think of the huge numbers of people in this country are druggies whenever I read articles like this or all these drug commercials and ads. I'm talking about the "legal" ones which I think are higher numbers than your typical addicts that get non-regulated non-prescript from the dealer on the street. And then to think there was a time in China when much of the population were opium addicts which made much of the country dysfunctional and was easily overran by foreign powers (i.e. the Opium Wars). I see the USA going the same route. If I could wave the magic wand, my first would be to prohibit advertisements of prescription drugs on television and internet and magazines. Restrict it to only medical magazines and journals.
  • by rahvin112 ( 446269 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @06:47PM (#41380739)

    And the Anti-Drug lobby writes another opinion piece that medicine should not be treating pain and pharma is out of control by providing new pain management options.

    The reason pain prescriptions have gone up is that medicine isn't telling people to take 2 asprin and fuck off. The reason my father has a fucked up GI system is because of the asprin abuse because he was never given the option of real pain management.

    As a chronic pain sufferer I wish every one of these fucktards that think no one should be on pain management could experience a month of what I do every day. The constant thoughts of suicide, the near complete lack of life, enjoyment or any satisfaction in life, the exhaustion and the constant work just getting out of bed every day. There is a reason there is an ex law enforcement organization devoted to campaigning proper pain management and it's because some of those lucky people get to experience real chronic pain.

    Someone that's never experienced chronic severe pain has no fucking idea what it's like.

  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @07:00PM (#41380855)

    It's not a "have you stopped beating your wife" kind of question if the latent assumption (e.g. that Rush Limbaugh "hate[s] teh druggies") is previously established as true (which earlier posts claim is the case).

    In other words, it's not a fallacy to ask "have you stopped beating your wife?" if the previous question, "did you ever beat your wife?" had already been answered in the affirmative.

  • SO that (Score:4, Insightful)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <`dadinportland' `at' `'> on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @07:03PM (#41380875) Homepage Journal

    added something tat makes it time release, thus fixing some of the major issues.
    I am supposed to be outraged..why? Becasue something was out of patent, that made something new and patented it.

    Well, that's how it's supposed to work.

    Shit you should be applauding the successful and proper use of the patent system

  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @07:09PM (#41380925) Journal

    The only thing you need to know is that he loves money, and has found a niche that happily pays him plenty of it.

    Frankly, I long ago gave up any hope that any of the major Conservative commentators was being sincere. There's so much money to be made preaching to the choir, and it does matter how over the top the rhetoric they will lap it up, that I think Conservative talk shows are about as real as a carnival side show. Think of Rush as the bearded woman and you've figured out the secret.

  • by jhoegl ( 638955 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @07:15PM (#41380979)

    I don't get this?

    So you folks want people to suffer in pain and have to spend a lot of money to get less release from their pain?

    And, yes, I think Rush is in the top 1% of American income earners. Self made man, also. Kind of makes all the rest of us feel like worthless garbage, doesn't it.

    I have to pay ~$170 for two vials of insuline every 1 1/2 weeks, which keep me ALIVE...

    So fuck you.

  • by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @07:17PM (#41380999)

    With you right up until 'allopathic'. The use of that word outs you as an 'alternative' medicine nutjob.

    If the pain model used in medicine is immature and inadequate, it still represents the best we have. I very much hope that if it is immature and inadequate that some serious research is going into that area.

    Because any of the alt-med crap may as well have been pulled out of my butthole. I'd rather have immature than a blend of fantasy and charlatanry.

  • by Obfuscant ( 592200 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @07:18PM (#41381017)

    The street price is higher because the pharmacy cost is higher.

    The street price is higher because the drug is on the federal schedule of drugs as something to be restricted. The street price is higher because the demand for it is significant. The street price is higher because the risk of getting caught dealing is higher, and the penalties greater. The street price is higher because people will pay it. For every person who walks away because they think $80 a pill is too high, there is someone next in line who will pay it.

    The point was, however, that using the "street price" as some indicator that the manufacturer charges too much is just silly. It's not the stadium's fault when you buy a ticket from a scalper for a sold-out game for ten times the box office price, nor is it the stadium's fault when the scalper charges you a service fee to make up for his costs in getting tickets and the risks of doing so.

  • by Jafafa Hots ( 580169 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @07:33PM (#41381161) Homepage Journal

    I am a medical marijuana patient in California.
    I also was a habitual pot user 25 years ago when I was a teen, for about a year.

    I agree that "harmless" is a stupid thing to call anything that you ignite and inhale into your lungs, and would concede that it might be mildly physically addictive.

    If so, however, it is FAR less physically addictive that caffeine (coffee, soda). The withdrawal symptoms, if any, are FAR less severe than those of a Starbucks addict going cold turkey.

    As far as psychologically addictive, there is no such thing. Addiction is bio-chemical. You cannot be "addicted" to gambling, shopping, masturbation, etc. These are compulsive behaviors - they are NOT addiction. That is not meant to insult sufferers, compulsive behavior patterns are an illness and are FAR worse to deal with than simple physical addition. With physical addiction, you simply need to detox.

    But compulsive behavior cannot be blamed on the object of that compulsion, whether it be cannabis, eBay shopping, sex, or collecting beanie babies.

    Beanie babies are not a gateway drug. But they have bankrupted people and destroyed lives. Ban THEM? Of course not.

    If anything can be said to be addictive about these things, it is an addiction to brain chemicals the behaviors cause the release of. If you are addicted to your own serotonin, you are NOT a "stamp collecting addict."

    You need treatment, but stamps are not the cause.

    Cannabis, if it has a physical addiction component, has one that is far less severe than many substances that have no regulation whatsoever, and are sold to kids in machines in some of their High Schools.

  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @07:38PM (#41381233) Journal

    Seriously, though, there is a vast difference between taking a prescribed drug and becoming addicted to it and using a proscribed drug for the explicit purpose of getting high.

    Yes, the first is where you're being abused by people who are supposed to care for you, and the second is living your life like a free person.

  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @07:50PM (#41381363) Homepage

    The answer is "yes" he hates the people the same amount. That is, not

    Bullshit. I know you want to parlay the admission of ignorance of his opinion on homosexuals into not actually having listened to him at all, but this is not true and you can't just lie to my face like that. He spoke on the subject more than often enough for your words to mean anything.

    Just so you know, most people realize that calling weed evil isn't the same as calling the people who use it evil.

    Yeah and calling them maggot-infested is both accurate and a compliment. LOL.

    I didn't say he said they were "evil", I said he hates them, and he does. How much vitriol does someone have to spew at a group of people before it is clear that they hate them? The answer is much less than he has.

    If you're going to do a word-mincing jerk-off session, at least make sure you're stroking the right verbiage.

  • by pepax ( 748182 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @08:06PM (#41381513)
    I tried heroin once. Back in my hitch-hiking days I smoked it (believe it or not) with one of the drivers. It was absolutely wonderful. It felt like I just totally aced a toughest college exam. A complete euphoria. Pure happiness. In fact, it was so wonderful that I decided not try it ever again, because I could see how easily one can become addicted to it. But I did not get addicted. Then again, even back then, I was a motivated student, and my goal was to pursue science. Wasting my life doing drugs wasn't my plan. I might possibly try it again, given a chance, since it's now been almost 20 years. I am not planning on seeking it out, though, and I don't hitch-hike anymore, so I don't think it's going to happen, which is probably for the better.
  • by ortholattice ( 175065 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @09:30PM (#41382181)

    In fact, because this has become accepted fact throughout the psychological and medical fields, they are adding official diagnosis of Cannabis Withdrawal [] to the latest diagnostic standards (mind you, they are also dropping the terms Abuse and Dependence and moving to simply Substance Use Disorders, with a spectrum of No Diagnosis, Mild, Moderate, and Severe).

    In fact, because this has become accepted fact throughout the psychological and medical fields, they are adding official diagnosis of Caffeine Withdrawal [] to the latest diagnostic standards (mind you, they are also dropping the terms Abuse and Dependence and moving to simply Substance Use Disorders, with a spectrum of No Diagnosis, Mild, Moderate, and Severe).

    It seems to me that the listed symptoms of Cannabis Withdrawal are less severe than those of Caffeine Withdrawal.

  • by ldunn1958 ( 2733629 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @10:10PM (#41382437)
    Many chronic pain sufferers will tell you that they had never imagined it was even possible to feel so much pain. They live in a universe of pain unknown to most of us. Try to imagine yourself in bed with pain shooting through your body that is so intense that you cannot move. It seems it could get no worse, but any effort to move doubles, triples the intensity. So there you lie weeping but not sobbing because that would hurt even more. Now imagine that you know for a fact that there is a pill you could take that would let you get out of bed and go to work. But you won't get it. Why? Because the DOJ does not trust you not to sell it on the street. How does that make you feel?
  • by demonlapin ( 527802 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @10:25PM (#41382521) Homepage Journal
    If someone tells me that Rush is an idiot, my usual response is to remind them that he probably works about eight hours a day to make millions a year. He might endorse some stupid opinions, but dumb he ain't.
  • by tsotha ( 720379 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @10:32PM (#41382565)

    15-20 years ago, doctors were written up and called out for not treating enough pain.

    As they should have been. You had people in the last few weeks of life being denied effective pain treatment because submitting too many of some particular government form might be a headache for the doctor. As far as I'm concerned when someone is near death they ought to be able to get whatever they want. So what if the patient is taking more than he needs for the pain. Are we really worried about addiction in someone who's going to be dead in a few weeks?

  • by zazzel ( 98233 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @01:43AM (#41383543)

    There's something fundamentally wrong with the "there's a drug for everything!"-attitude in the U.S. I've been brought up by my parents to know that a) most small aches go away anyways, b) medication ALWAYS comes with side effects and c) I should go for the causes of my problems, not the symptoms.

    So, in essence, even for most cases of diagnosed "depression" (not: clinical depression!) these days, I would rather look for changes to my life style (work environment, friends, family, sports, food...) than take medication.

    ESPECIALLY considering the absurd cost of prescription drugs and the insane marketing pressure behind them.

  • by Genda ( 560240 ) < minus cat> on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @02:28AM (#41383703) Journal

    I'm sorry but cannibis has one of the longest and most illustrious histories of any cultivated plant, up until the time that well monied interests decided to demonize it to bury the hemp industry. The only thing evil about marijuana is that the pharmaceutical industry has spent millions to ensure it remains unavailable to the millions of people suffering from cancer and chronic pain.

    After California legalized medical marijuana, a pot cooperative in the Santa Cruz area was targeted by the Fed. In 2002 they marched into a quiet and peaceful community, held a single woman pinned to the floor with a shotgun to her head, and proceeded to tear up the pot plants in the back yard. The members of the coop began arriving, many in wheelchairs and on oxygen. They simply parked themselves in the driveway. The woman of the house commented "Seems we 're holding the big bad Marshals hostage."

    The incident lead to the painful and untimely deaths of dozens of coop members. The incident was also a PR disaster for the Federal Marshals, and neighboring police departments made it very clear they'd have nothing to do with any future such events hosted by the DEA and Federal Marshals. I'm looking and the number of people dying of prescription drugs in our society is simply shocking, nobody dies of pot, save the victims of the illegal trade made possible by the idiot laws preventing the legal trade, control and taxation of marijuana. At this late and ridiculous point in the process of a product more widely used than any other save perhaps alcohol, is not time to say, Okay, this war was lost, perhaps diplomacy is now a better track.

  • Winners (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kupfernigk ( 1190345 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @03:46AM (#41384145)
    It is said that Murdoch tells his newspapers to support the political parties that look like winning, so that the can then frighten politicians by claiming to be an influence on elections, and get privileges like relaxed media control and access to senior Ministers. But I imagine that in the US, where advertising income is so important, it's more about appealing to the demographic that the advertisers regard as desirable - i.e. well off, sense of entitlement to material goods, and gullible.

    A direct marketer once told me that if he ever managed to get an accurate list of 500 rich, narcissistic and gullible individuals, he would never need to work hard for a living again.

"Remember, extremism in the nondefense of moderation is not a virtue." -- Peter Neumann, about usenet