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OxyContin - Manufacturer Plans For A Safer Pain Medication

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Published On: <DATE>          Updated On: January 26, 2002
© Terence T. Gorski, 2001

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OxyContin - 
Manufactures Plan For A Safer Pain Medication

Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, is developing a new pain killer that would be tougher to abuse.  OxyContin is a time-released prescription painkiller linked to growing problems with abuse, overdoses, and deaths.  OxyContin can be easily abused because the time-release mechanism can be disabled when the pill is crushed and then snorted.  The new painkiller will have a built in self-destruct mechanism that destroy its own narcotic ingredients if crushed into a powder and snorted or injected.  The self-destruct mechanism that disables the narcotic effect if the pill is crushed will consist of embedded microscopic ``beads'' of naltrexone, a narcotic antagonist that counteracts the medicine.  The beads would be coated with a chemical to keep them from dissolving, so the pain medication will work just like OxyContin if taken as directed.  But if the pill is crushed or chopped up, the coating on the beads would break, releasing the naltrexone and canceling the drug's effects.  The new drug has yet to be named and will not be available for at least three years, would — the typical manner in which OxyContin currently is abused.

OxyContin - 
Manufactures Plan For A Safer Pain Medication

On August 8, 2001 Chris Kahn of the Associated Press reported that Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, has come up with blueprints for a ``smart pill'' that would be tougher to abuse.  OxyContin is a time-released prescription painkiller linked to a growing number of overdoses and deaths.  OxyContin can be easily abused because the time-release mechanism is disabled when the pill is crushed and then snorted.  The new painkiller, which has yet to be named and would not be available for at least three years, would destroy its own narcotic ingredients if crushed into a powder and snorted or injected — the typical manner in which OxyContin currently is abused.

``Addicts and abusers are going to find this very undesirable,'' said Dr. J. David Haddox, senior medical director for Purdue Pharma LP of Stamford, Conn. ``Before long they're going to say, 'Don't mess with that stuff; that's no good.'''

Purdue spokesman Jim Heins said the drug could become an alternative to their top-selling painkiller in areas like rural Appalachia where prescription drug abuse is especially high.

OxyContin is a slow-release narcotic painkiller that is widely prescribed for victims of moderate to severe chronic pain resulting from such problems as arthritis, back trouble and cancer. One pill is designed to last 12 hours, but abusers usually crush the medicine and then snort or inject it, producing a quick, heroin-like high.

The drug has been blamed for contributing to more than 100 deaths nationwide. Purdue, which has become the target of at least 13 OxyContin-related lawsuits in five states, says those estimates are unreliable and that in the vast majority of those cases, the victims were abusing other drugs at the same time.

Like OxyContin, which was introduced in December 1995, the new drug would be for victims of moderate to severe chronic pain.

However, it would be embedded with microscopic ``beads'' of naltrexone, a narcotic antagonist that counteracts the medicine.

The beads would be coated with a chemical to keep them from dissolving, so the pain medication will work just like OxyContin if taken as directed.

But if the pill is crushed or chopped up, the coating on the beads would break, releasing the naltrexone and canceling the drug's effects, Haddox said.

Purdue is still conducting tests on the new drug, which could be ready in three years. Officials have not decided yet whether to make oxycodone the active ingredient, or to include a different narcotic altogether, like morphine.

If the Food and Drug Administration approves the drug, it would be one of only a few abuse-resistant drugs on the market. The first smart pill, a painkiller called Talwin NX, uses an antagonist called naloxone to achieve similar effects.

Richard S. Weiner, executive director of the American Academy of Pain Management in Sonora, Calif., applauded the new formula.

``Hopefully, this will assuage law enforcement that ... painkillers can be safe,'' Weiner said.

Purdue has been criticized for not reformulating OxyContin to be like Talwin. Company officials decided against doing so, Haddox said, because they were concerned that naloxone might create a ``ceiling'' effect in OxyContin. Such a drug would not increase in potency past a certain point, even if a patient takes higher and higher doses.

``We think this is a much more elegant solution to the problem,'' Haddox said.

Purdue officials said the timing of the patent has nothing to do with lawsuits from people claiming they're addicted to OxyContin and others who want to hold the company responsible for illicit abuse of the drug.

This week, Purdue said it expects an international patent application will be published on their ``sequestered naltrexone'' technology, an initial step that expedites the formula protection process in some countries. Heins said the company also will seek individual patents in the United States, Japan, Europe and other major markets.

On the Net:  http://www.pharma.comhttp://www.aapainmanage.org

About the Author

Terence T. Gorski is internationally recognized for his contributions to Relapse Prevention Therapy. The scope of his work, however, extends far beyond this. A skilled cognitive behavioral therapist with extensive training in experiential therapies, Gorski has broad-based experience and expertise in the chemical dependency, behavioral health, and criminal justice fields.

To make his ideas and methods more available, Gorski opened The CENAPS Corporation, a private training and consultation firm of founded in 1982.  CENAPS is committed to providing the most advanced training and consultation in the chemical dependency and behavioral health fields.

Gorski has also developed skills training workshops and a series of low-cost book, workbooks, pamphlets, audio and videotapes. He also works with a team of trainers and consultants who can assist individuals and programs to utilize his ideas and methods.
Terry Gorski is available for personal and program consultation, lecturing, and clinical skills training workshops. He also routinely schedules workshops, executive briefings, and personal growth experiences for clinicians, program managers, and policymakers.

Mr. Gorski holds a B.A. degree in psychology and sociology from Northeastern Illinois University and an M.A. degree from Webster's College in St. Louis, Missouri.  He is a Senior Certified Addiction Counselor In Illinois.  He is a prolific author who has published numerous books, pamphlets and articles.  Mr. Gorski routinely makes himself available for interviews, public presentations, and consultant.  He has presented lectures and conducted workshops in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.  

For books, audio, and video tapes written and recommended by Terry Gorski contact: Herald House - Independence Press, P.O. Box 390 Independence, MO 64055.  Telephone: 816-521-3015 0r 1-800-767-8181.  His publication website is www.relapse.org.

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This article is copyrighted by Terence To Gorski.  Permission is given to reproduce this article if the following conditions are met:  (1) The authorship of the article is properly referenced and the internet address is given;  (2) All references to the following three websites are retained when the article is reproduced - www.tgorski.com, www.cenaps.com, www.relapse.org, www.relapse.net; (3) If the article is published on a website a reciprocal link to the four websites listed under point two is provided on the website publishing the article.
 

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