In the past few weeks, the Orlando Sentinel has reported on several new state and federal initiatives to address the problem of prescription-drug abuse in Florida.
State Sen. Burt Saunders announced hearings to examine Medicaid fraud as it relates to the illegal diversion of prescription drugs; a separate task force, headed by Attorney General Charlie Crist and Florida drug czar James McDonough, will investigate the same issue; and U.S. Congressman John Mica announced that a House subcommittee will hold a hearing in February on this subject.
As the manufacturer of OxyContin ® (oxycodone HCl controlled-release) Tablets, we share these concerns about prescription-drug abuse in Florida. This problem is not a new phenomenon, however, and we must be careful that any proposed “cure” does not do more harm than the “disease” itself. In other words, measures designed to curb illegal trafficking and abuse of prescription drugs must not restrict access for patients who need these medications.
It is our hope that lawmakers will consider three very important points when addressing this problem. First, and most important, these medications when used appropriately help alleviate the pain of thousands of Floridians who otherwise would suffer needlessly. Second, it is the abuse of these medications, not the medications themselves, that is the cause of the problem. Third, according to the Florida Medical Examiners reports, the majority of drug-related fatalities occur from a lethal cocktail of several drugs.
A scientific study published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology reported the analysis of more than 1,000 autopsies of drug overdoses involving oxycodone from 23 states, including more than 300 from Florida, which occurred between August 1999 and January 2002. The study found that greater than 90 percent of deaths where oxycodone was present was due to drug abuse. In that same study, 268, or 94 percent, of those deaths in Florida involved drug abuse. All of them had multiple drugs present at the autopsy.
Purdue Pharma has been on the front lines in the fight against the illegal trafficking and abuse of prescription drugs. In the state of Florida alone, we have spent more than $150,000 to educate 680 law-enforcement officers about how to combat prescription-drug trafficking. We have distributed some 35,000 tamper-resistant prescription pads to 2,200 physicians throughout the state and sponsored over 500 educational programs for more than 135,000 health-care professionals on the appropriate use of pain medications. We are also underwriting “Communities That Care” programs in Tampa, Tallahassee and Palm Beach County to identify and address the root causes of substance abuse in these communities, at a cost of $25,000 per site.
In addition, Purdue has pledged $2 million toward the development of an innovative prescription-monitoring program in Florida that, once completed, could be shared with other states across the country. And we are working with the state’s legislative leadership to gain support for the legislation needed to establish a prescription-monitoring program.
Purdue is taking these steps to ensure that criminal activity does not determine health-care policy in Florida. As lawmakers seek solutions to the problem of prescription-drug abuse, they must be sure that responsible health-care professionals can continue to provide effective and appropriate care to patients suffering from serious, unrelenting pain.
Paul Goldenheim, M.D. is executive vice president and chief scientific officer for Purdue Pharma L.P.
Source: Orlando Sentinel
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Editorial Notes from Marianne Skolek, www.oxydeaths.com:
Referring to “a scientific study published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology.” Please be aware this “scientific study” was funded by Purdue Pharma and co-authored by J. David Haddox an employee of Purdue Pharma. Is this an impartial report? You be the judge.
Please be aware that in the “scientific study” that Goldenheim refers to entitled Oxycodone Involvement in Drug Abuse Deaths: A DAWN-Based Classification Scheme Applied to an Oxycodone Postmortem Database Containing Over 1000 cases not only is J. David Haddox of Purdue Pharma a contributor of the report, but on Page 57 of the report it states “Purdue Pharma funded this research. The authors not employed by Purdue Pharma LP serve as consultants and received compensation for their participation in this research.”
Source: Orlando Sentinel