Purdue Pharmaceuticals to Test OxyContin on Children
Purdue Pharmaceuticals, the morally bankrupt pharmaceutical company behind the highly-addictive painkiller OxyContin, is seeking FDA approval to label the drug for children as young as six – all in order to extend their patent rights for another six months.
In a display of just how fucked up our country’s pharmaceutical industry is, Purdue is paying dozens of clinical sites to test the extremely addictive painkiller on children. Purdue claims the motivation for the trials is to “help doctors who currently prescribe the drug off-label to children,” reports The Daily. But their true motivation is all too transparent: to extend their patent on the drug another six months.
Purdue has been fighting legal battles against generic drug makers producing the drug, and seeking to extend and protect its original patent for OxyContin, scheduled to expire next year. The FDA encourages pharmaceutical companies to test drugs for pediatric use by offering a six-month patent extension as a reward, a policy Purdue is seeking to exploit.
Typically pharmaceutical companies are less inclined to test drugs on children for the pediatric market, since it is much smaller than the adult market. This leads to guess work when trying to figure out dosages for children based on adult studies. According to The Daily, “more than 60 percent of drugs prescribed for children are not FDA-approved for pediatric use.”
But is there any reason for OxyContin to be prescribed for children? Surely there are other, less-addictive pain killers that can be used to treat acute and chronic pain in children, and recent studies suggest that children may be especially prone to opiate addiction. Additionally, a 2005 University of Michigan study found that children who are prescribed opioids are more likely to abuse painkillers as adolescents and adults. Considering that OxyContin abuse is something of an epidemic in many parts of the country, and the fact that it is more addictive than other opioids, there appears to be only one reason to seek pediatric testing of the drug: greed.
Purdue is hardly new to controversy. The Stamford, Connecticut based company faced scandal in 2007 when they admitted in court to misleading the public and doctors about OxyContin’s risk of addiction. The company was charged with a felony and forced to pay $635 million in fines.
A Purdue spokesman told The Daily that the company has no plans to seek the right to market the drug to pediatricians – which would involve a separate category of FDA approval – but can we really trust this company, given their history of deceit? One physician involved in the study doesn’t think so. “That’s probably disingenuous,” he said. “I believe [an FDA approval for marketing to pediatricians] is where they’re going.”
If that happens, what’s to stop Purdue sales associates from aggressively pushing the narcotic to pediatricians? This company has already shown a complete lack of moral scruples. It seems naïve to believe they won’t pursue profit at any cost.
Image: The Fix
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