In a ridiculous move likely designed to try and extend its patent – and thus, it’s profits – the maker of OxyContin is planning to test this powerful drug on children.
To be fair, there are a number of children who suffer from conditions such as cancer, which require some form of serious pain management. But little is known about how such young patients will tolerate this potentially habit-forming substance. And even less is known about how it could affect developing children over the long term.
OxyContin is the brand name for oxycodone, and comes in a time-release formulation that is meant to treat serious pain over the course of a day. The drug, manufactured by Purdue Pharma, is one of – if not the most – abused drugs on the planet. Some mature adults have been unable to resist its power, as drugs in the opioid class are known for their ability to become less effective as tolerance builds.
At this stage, some people begin to take more or are prescribed a higher dosage to cover the pain. Concerns surrounding OxyContin include dependence, addiction, overdose and accidental death. And coming off OxyContin is no easy feat once dependence develops. It causes a notoriously painful and difficult opiate withdrawal.
Federal Agency Allows For Patent Extensions For Companies Who Test Children
Conducting clinical trials on children will allow Purdue Pharma to extend its exclusivity on the patent, set to expire in April 2013. This will extend the company’s patent for six months, after which other companies can get in on the moneymaking oxycodone game. Generic versions of OxyContin would obviously eat into Purdue Pharma’s profits, which were in the billions last year.
The trials can get underway thanks to an incentive from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It gives pharmaceutical companies a possible six-month patent extension for testing approved drugs on patients to see how they will perform. According to the New York Times, this extension could possibly add hundreds of millions of dollars to Purdue Pharma’s coffers.
In 2004, the company started an OxyContin clinical trial on children but abandoned it, saying it had run out of resources. The new trial will include 150 children between the ages of 6 and 16 who already take opioid painkillers.
Purdue Pharma has paid more than $600 million in fines for misbranding the drug in the past and not being upfront about OxyContin addiction risks. Some experts say it’s not hard to see where the company’s interests lie and question whether it has any regard at all for the customers it serves.