The OxyContin epidemic goes global. OxyContin is a business that is dying out in the United States as a result of a nationwide epidemic that has seen over 200,000 lives taken as a result of opioid abuse. Health officials are instructing primary care physicians from prescribing these drugs for chronic pain, stating that there is no evidence that they work in the long term and that they increase patients’ risk of addiction.
Since 2010, prescriptions for OxyContin have decreased by almost 40 percent. As a result, billions of dollars in revenue were lost by Purdue Pharma, the brand’s manufacturer based in Connecticut. The Sackler family, which owns the company, has a new goal in mind, one that seems very rash: the plan is to put the drug that started the opioid crisis in the US in medicine cabinets throughout the globe.
This is a plan that can backfire and result in an OxyContin epidemic globally. A group of international companies owned by the Sackler family is entering the areas of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, among others, and is trying to push for a broader use of painkillers in regions that don’t have the resources to deal with problems stemming from opioid abuse and addiction.
The network of companies, collectively called Mundipharma, are relying on controversial marketing tactics that led to OxyContin becoming so widespread in the US. It is easy to envision a headline of “OxyContin addiction goes global” as a result of these practices.
In countries like China and Brazil, the companies are hosting seminars attended by physicians and are urging them to get past their feeling about opioids and prescribe painkillers to patients who need them. The companies are also hosting campaigns to raise public awareness to encourage patients dealing with chronic pain to seek medical treatment and even offering discounts to make prescription opioids cheaper.
With the worry of the possibility that OxyContin addiction goes global, Vivek H. Murthy, US Surgeon General, states that he urges doctors “to be very careful” with such medications and to learn from the problems that have come about with opioid use in the US. He stresses that using caution is important when marketing the drugs and that the benefits didn’t outweigh the risks for many individuals.
OxyContin Epidemic Marketing Help
David A. Kessler, former US Food and Drug Administration commission, compared Mundipharma’s push of opioids in foreign markets with the marketing of big tobacco companies pushing cigarettes.
Representatives of the companies have pushed marketing materials that downplay the risks of becoming addicted to opioid drugs. It is reminiscent of the marketing of OxyContin in the late 1990s in the US when Purdue Pharma lied to doctors about the addictiveness of the drug.
In 2007, Purdue and three of its executives pled guilty to misbranding of the drug, a federal charge that saw them ordered to pay $635 million. The FDA claimed that the company used inappropriate, aggressive and excessive marketing and made the abuse and trafficking of OxyContin even worse.
In spite of the high risks of addiction when taking OxyContin, the managing director of Mundipharma’s office in Cyrus, Menicos M. Petrou, stated that it is “an excellent product” and that he was happy to meet members of the Sackler family when they visited a factory located on the island. He claimed that if people misuse drugs, there is usually not much a pharmaceutical company can do about it.
Overall, there is little regard for the possibility of an OxyContin epidemic. Time will tell how the use of opioids going so widespread will go and if there will be more responsible use of the drugs.