The National Pain Report has learned that the California Medical Board has received the names of an additional 113 California physicians from Purdue Pharma that the company has identified as risky prescribers of its pain medication, OxyContin.
That means that Purdue has now supplied a total of 162 prescriber names to the medical board, almost three times the original estimate of 59. The list of names is not being released publicly.
“As the board receives these names from Purdue we will be going over each and every name listed to determine if further action is warranted,” said Cassandra Hockenson, public affairs manager for the board.
“We do not discuss any ongoing investigations. That said, once something is completed and action is taken it will be made available as a public record.”
Purdue began compiling a list of physicians who may be recklessly prescribing OxyContin in 2002, and instructed its sales staff not to call them. It was not until this year that the Los Angeles Times reported the existence of such a list — a nationwide database of 1,800 physicians that Purdue considered as possible over prescribers of the highly addictive painkiller.
Purdue maintains it was always willing to share its list with law enforcement or regulatory agencies, but it was not until after the Times story broke that investigators around the country began asking for the names.
“Purdue provided the names of California physicians subject to the Medical Board’s regulatory authority who were placed on Purdue’s no call list in two installments. The first list contained the names of 49 California physicians who were active prescribers of OxyContin,” said James Heins, Senior Director of Public Affairs for Purdue.
“The second list contained the names of an additional 113 California physicians who were placed on Purdue’s no call list dating back to the beginning of the program in 2002. These lists include the names of physicians some of whom are deceased, retired, or no longer prescribing controlled substances of any kind.”
Heins says the physicians on the second list were not considered to be active prescribers of OxyContin and may no longer be practicing medicine. Some may have lost their medical licenses, been subject to legal or disciplinary action, or were under active investigation.
Two California State Senators, Ted Lieu and Mark DeSaulnier have been pressing Purdue to release the list. Lieu said he is pleased that Purdue has supplied the names. He also emphasized that the information that would be treated as confidential.
“This is an issue of balance. Pain medications have done a lot of good for patients over the years. But the pendulum has swung too far on the side of pain medication usage,” Lieu told the National Pain Report.
Since OxyContin was first introduced in 1996, it has generated more than $27 billion dollars in sales revenue for the company. In 2007, several company executives pleaded guilty to a felony count of misbranding OxyContin, by playing down its addictive and abusive side effects. The company and its executives were fined $634 million.