The National Pain Report has learned that Purdue Pharma — the maker of OxyContin — has sent the names of most of the 59 doctors in California it suspects of being risky prescribers of the painkiller to the California Medical Board.
The names of 49 physicians were sent to the Medical Board this week. A source at the Medical Board said it expects to receive more names of California physicians from the company by September 18th, which is the deadline Purdue was given by the board to comply with its request for the names of California physicians that the company considers to be excessive prescribers of OxyContin.
The LA Times broke a story last month that said Purdue had a data base of 1,800 physicians nationwide it considered to be risky prescribers of the drug. Two California State Senators, Ted Lieu and Mark DeSaulnier have been pressing Purdue to release the list.
Purdue maintains the list of so-called risky doctors was always available to law enforcement and state and federal health officials. It has not, however, been willing to release the names publicly.
“We developed our Abuse & Diversion Detection program referenced in the (LA Times) article to help identify potentially problematic prescribers and prevent promotion of our products to such prescribers,” the company said in a statement to National Pain Report.
“Many of the prescribers in California on Purdue’s list are already known or have been previously disclosed to law enforcement or regulatory authorities. We shared the list recently with California Medical Board officials as well as information on our program and ongoing efforts to reduce the misuse and abuse of OxyContin. We have historically and will continue to work with state authorities in California, and other states throughout the country, towards our common goal to reduce misuse and abuse of prescription pain medicines, such as OxyContin.”
Since OxyContin was first introduced in 1996, Purdue Pharma 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.
It’s not exactly clear what the Medical Board will do with the list, although it appears that the Board has been more aggressive recently in identifying doctors who are suspected of over-prescribing pain medication.
The FDA has also been taking action on pain medications. It announced on September 10 that it is going to toughen the prescription guidelines for OxyContin and other extended release opiods.
The Centers for Disease Control has been active in this debate, citing “a growing, deadly epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse.”
Nearly three out of four prescription drug overdoses are caused by prescription painkillers. The unprecedented rise in drug overdose deaths parallels a 300% increase since 1999 in the sale of these strong painkillers. The CDC says more people are dying from painkiller overdoses than cocaine and heroin combined.
In 2010, the latest year for which they have data, the CDC estimates that more than 12 million Americans reported using prescription painkillers for nonmedical reason.