What is OxyContin?
OxyContin is the trade name for the strong narcotic (opiate) oxycodone hydrochloride.
The FDA has classified OxyContin as a Schedule II narcotic, which is the highest level of restriction on any prescription medication; however, the FDA permits legitimate prescriptions for this drug to treat moderate to severe pain. Patients wanting this drug can always attest to headaches and other common pains as having moderate to severe pain, which releases a doctor from any legal prescribing restrictions.
How is OxyContin Used and Abused?
OxyContin tablets have a controlled-release feature and are designed to be taken six to eight hours apart, but the entire dose of opiate painkiller can be delivered to the blood stream at one time by chewing the tablets, or worse, by crushing them and snorting the powder or dissolving it in water and injecting it into one’s veins.
How Many Americans are Abusing OxyContin?
The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse reports that nearly one million American residents aged 12 and older used OxyContin for non-medical uses at least once in their lifetime and 4% of high school seniors abused the drug at least once in the past year, according to the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future Survey.
Does Taking OxyContin Cause Physical and Psychological Addiction?
Emphatically YES ! All opiates are both physically and mentally addicting. Opiates repress and replace the natural endorphins, or “feel good” neuro-hormones in our bodies. Continual consumption of the opiates will lead to a tolerance for the drug, requiring larger and larger doses to illicit a similar response experienced with the initial dose.
Depending on unknown personal differences, a person taking as little as three to five doses, can become physically addicted, meaning that he will experience withdrawal symptoms as soon as he stops taking the drug. Mentally, withdrawal symptoms cause severe anxiety and a preoccupation with the drug. This anxiety is accompanied with depression and an inability to care about anything other than finding and taking the drug.
At the same time, the body is also going through uncomfortable changes that can be so severe that when first experienced, the person thinks they are having a heart attack, convulsions or some ailment that requires medical attention. The physical withdrawal symptoms include muscle and bone pain, including severe leg cramps; insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, hot and cold flashes, involuntary leg movements, and with larger doses of the drug, the respiratory system can be depressed to a point of suffocation.
Those persons that inject these drugs are also at high risk for other complications, including contracting HIV, hepatitis B and C and other blood-borne viruses and bacteria.
With Such Severe Side Effects, Why are so Many People Becoming Addicted to OxyContin?
OxyContin is a powerful painkiller and acts on the part of the brain and cells in an identical fashion as endorphins, our natural “feel good” neuro-hormones. Therefore, any pain is reduced or eliminated, even feelings as minor as social discomfort and boredom, or more severe problems like; anxiety and depression or headaches. These most common human frustrations are temporarily relieved, but when they return, the body is no longer equipped with its natural resilience, an a person feels the need for more opiates. When the endorphins are replaced with larger quantities of a similar chemical, you feel happiness and euphoria that is usually reserved for the most thrilling moments in our lives. These “highs” have been described as similar to feelings that are associated with major accomplishment, like graduation, weddings and other equally momentous occasions.
The absence of opiates after artificially inducing these feelings is extremely dehumanizing and leads one to seeking instant gratification which is found by taking more of the same or other drugs. The long-term effect of being addicted to OxyContin requires extensive physical detoxification and the lengthy process of rekindling a person’s enthusiasm to find enjoyment in a drug-free life.
Given the consequences of opiate addiction and the strength of this opiate painkiller, they should be reserved for intractable pain from cancer and surgeries and never seen as a drug of choice or “recreation”. The pain and personal suffering that is seen from opiate addiction cannot be taken lightly.
OxyContin Class Action
The United States Food and Drug Administration approved OxyContin in 1995. In 1996, Health Canada followed suit and approved the drug as a prescription opioid.
From its introduction until 2001, the manufacturer Purdue Pharma claimed OxyContin was safer than other prescription opioids. OxyContin was marketed as an effective, long-lasting and powerful narcotic with the ability to relieve severe pain for up to 12 hours. Purdue Pharma billed the drug as being less addictive, less subject to abuse, and less likely to produce withdrawal symptoms compared to similar pain medications.
Dependence and Addiction
Despite the Defendants’ marketing, the use of OxyContin comes with a risk of life-changing negative consequences. OxyContin has the ability to produce drug dependency. Those who take the drug repeatedly can rapidly develop a tolerance to it. Such patients require progressively larger and more frequent doses to cover their underlying pain. If the dose or method of administration is inappropriate, death can occur. In comparison to morphine, OxyContin active ingredient, oxycodone, is twice as potent.
Although it is possible to detox or “go cold turkey” from OxyContin, many patients struggle to do so because of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings. Withdrawal symptoms include severe anxiety, insomnia, profuse sweating, muscle spasms, chills, shivering, and tremors. Fear of withdrawal symptoms can often prevent patients from using such non-medically assisted detoxification. Even after a successful detoxification, some people find it difficult to maintain abstinence, and subsequently relapse.
The extent of of Purdue Pharma's dishonesty in the marketing of OxyContin became publicly known in May 2007, when the company and three of its current and former executives pleaded guilty to criminal charges that it had misled doctors and patients when it claimed the drug was less likely to be abused than traditional narcotics.
Class Action Litigation
On July 23, 2008, Docken and Company filed a class proceeding in the Court of Queens Bench on behalf of all persons in Alberta who were prescribed and purchased and/or used OxyContin.
If you were prescribed, purchased or used OxyContin please please sign up for our class action using our simple "Do I Have a Case?" sign up form at: http://www.docken.com/OxyContin.asp
Class Action Suit - Oxycontin
On September 26, 2007, Wagners filed a proposed common law class proceeding in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia on behalf of all persons affected by the use of OxyContin and on December 5, 2007, an Amended Statement of Claim was filed in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia which substantially modifies the original Statement of Claim.
In cooperation with law firms in each of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador, Wagners commenced an innovative class action against the narcotic's manufacturer Purdue Pharma. The proposed class action is for the benefit of any person in Canada who claims personal injury and/or damages as a result of being prescribed OxyContin. The proposed Class Members are represented in each of the Atlantic Provinces on an opt-out basis by law firms in each Atlantic Province. It is proposed that Class Members from outside the Atlantic Provinces will be able to participate on an opt-in basis.
The proposed class action suit alleges that the narcotic maker is guilty of deceit in the marketing of the painkiller OxyContin and claims a monetary remedy on behalf of residents of Canada who were legally prescribed the drug, including those who developed dependency or addiction issues. The class action has been launched in Halifax in alliance with law firms representing provincial subclasses in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.
The nature and scope of Purdue Pharma's deceit in the marketing of OxyContin became publicly known only in May 2007, when the company and three of its current and former executives pleaded guilty in Federal Court in Virginia to criminal charges that it had misled doctors and patients when it claimed the drug was less likely to be abused than traditional narcotics. Before the guilty plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney, Purdue Pharma had successfully covered up its misdeeds and obtained dismissal of over a thousand OxyContin related lawsuits in the United States.
In May 2007, Purdue Pharma agreed to pay over $600 million US in fines and other payments to settle the charge of misbranding OxyContin. This is one of the largest amounts ever paid by a drug company in such a case. OxyContin is a powerful and long acting narcotic that delivers effective control of serious pain for up to 12 hours. Purdue Pharma claimed that OxyContin, because of its time-release formulation, posed a lower threat of abuse and addiction to patients than other, faster-acting painkillers like Percocet or Vicodine. An aggressive and misleading marketing campaign pushed sales of OxyContin to over $1 billion US per year. The drug manufacturer heavily promoted OxyContin to doctors like general practitioners, who sometimes were under-trained and under-resourced in treating serious pain or in diagnosing drug abuse. By 2000, soaring rates of addiction and crime related to the use of OxyContin became obvious in parts of the United States, particularly in rural areas.
This pattern repeated itself in Atlantic Canada, particularly in Cape Breton and in Newfoundland and Labrador. The scope of the problem created in Newfoundland and Labrador was discussed in the OxyContin Task Force Final Report, June 30, 2004. The report noted that the bulk of OxyContin on the streets originated with prescriptions generated in Newfoundland and Labrador and has led to an increase in the number of pharmacy break and enters, armed robberies at pharmacies, break and enters at homes targeted for OxyContin, personal robberies with violence, and shoplifting rings operating in St. John's for the purpose of obtaining OxyContin. There has also been a surge in deaths related to drug overdoses. This report may be found at: http://health.gov.nl.ca/health/publications/oxyfinal/OxyContinFinalreport.pdf