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OxyContin marketing and opioid deaths


More than the rest of the nation, the workers compensation industry has studied the potential dangers of prescription opioid pain medications.

Reporters and bloggers regularly covering the industry have helped keep the issue front and center over the past couple of years. The regular media has also reported on the nation's epidemic of deaths and addiction tied to the prescription narcotics.

But there may be growing interest among the traditional media.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel just published a lengthy piece on the fate of seven people who suffered from chronic pain and appeared in a promotional video put out in the 1990s by Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin.

While some of those say the drug helped them cope, others died or became addicted.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story is available here and provides some insight into how OxyContin became such a large pharmaceutical industry seller.

“Sales of OxyContin have reached nearly $3 billion a year, making it the top-selling prescription pain pill in the country,” the story states. “Sales of all prescription opioids have quadrupled from 1999 to 2010.”

Meanwhile, a recent Wall Street Journal story traces the story of a young woman killed by her addiction to prescription drugs purchased legally.

The story makes several interesting points.

Here is one: “The U.S. spends about $15 billion a year fighting illegal drugs, often on foreign soil. But America's deadliest drug epidemic begins and ends at home. More than 15,000 Americans now die annually after overdosing on prescription painkillers called opioids, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—more than from heroin, cocaine and all other illegal drugs combined.”