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Painkillers Distribution and Its Consequences Essay

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Updated: Jun 19th, 2022

Purdue Pharma’s marketing of OxyContin

The use of potent pharmaceutical drugs intended to alleviate pain has always been a subject of many discussions because of the short and long-term influences they cause on patients. The main difficulty is the existence of exposure, which is similar to the narcotic drug’s effects. However, such medications are prevalent in the treatment process, and some companies produce them with exceptional success. One of the instances is the OxyContin medication, distributed by Purdue Pharma Company.

The legitimate pill contains doses of oxycodone, the effect of which lasts for several hours. Purdue launched a company to promote the use of OxyContin based on the potential safety of the drugs, explained with the improved method of active pharmaceutical ingredient releasing. In this situation, when numbers of patients suffer from pain and require relief, effective drugs could be effectively advertised. Therefore, in an oral history interview in 1996, Kathy Foley represented the medication successfully, emphasizing that the drug-delivery device was changed. Later, the FDA approved OxyContin in varying dosages. Purdue positioned their drug as the painkiller of the World Health Organization’s choice, based on approved by FDA unique warning label. It enabled the company to present OxyContin as a less addictive medication than other opiates and attract most medical practitioners and patients to use them. It was also promoted for other implementations than for patients with severe diseases such as cancer and postsurgical patients. Later, OxyContin was used to relieve moderate pain in uncomplicated cases, such as headaches and tooth extractions. Purdue Pharma launched the marketing company claiming the drug’s absolute safety that resulted in its broad use. This tendency might be exceptionally dangerous as such medications are not completely safe, and there is a risk of addiction.

Consequences of the Porter and Jick Paper and Their Influence

In the 1990s, doctor Hershel Jick and his assistance Jane Porter wrote the letter to the New England Journal of Medicine editor, which resulted in the United States medical practice revolution. One short paragraph in the paper contains statistics that show that number of addictions caused by narcotic drugs was less than even 1%, previously claimed by Purdue. This letter helped to create new insight into the use of painkillers. The outcome of it is the emphasis that science has advanced medications with little risk of addiction. Before the invention of opium-based drugs, it had been complicated to identify does the patient require the higher dose of a medication or show sights of “pseudoaddiction.” However, the new treatment enabled doctors to use painkillers more aggressively. Nevertheless, the new state of affairs showed that no patients growing addicted to opiate medications, and the letter conceived a movement causing the opioid crisis.

I believe that as a future Physician Assistant (PA), I should pay close attention to the issue of painkiller implementation in the health care process to ensure their safety. It is possible to notice that the widespread use of opium-based drugs, which was caused by Porter and Jick paper publishing. This tendency can be characterized as a negative one because the latter state of affairs showed how addictive opium painkillers are. Therefore, it is possible to conclude that I should be aware of the possibility of such a situation happening again in the future. I am confident that it is necessary to criticize rationally any alleges, which may affect patients’ wellbeing and be exceptionally careful with the prescription of narcotic drugs.

How have Medical Practitioners Contributed to the Rise of Opiate Addiction

It is possible to notice that the growth of opium painkillers consumption mainly depended on medical practitioners, who could prescribe such medications or not. Therefore, the doctor’s role in the rise of opiate addiction is significant as a vital part of the narcotic drug distribution chain. Medical practitioners had been guided by concepts of safety and care, according to which they had decided the issue of painkillers prescribing.

From the perspective of their actions’ ethics, it is expected that attempting to relieve patients’ suffering, doctors may prescribe the higher dose of opium drugs, justifying it with the commitment to render aid. Trying to avoid the negative consequences of drug use, practitioners questioned Purdue if OxyContin is safe. After the positive answer, medical staff obtained a moral right to continue prescribing the mentioned medication and increasing its doses. After the publication of Porter and Jick letter, last doubts were allayed, as the claims of the concerned side, which is the company itself, were proved by independent statistics. Although it is possible to understand doctors’ motives, it is complicated not to admit that their ethically correct actions contributed to the rise of the opioid crisis.

According to the book, American healthcare faced various challenges, which negatively influenced the nations. Some problematic aspects showed through discussion of the mentioned issue of opium painkillers over-prescription are the legalization of medication that was beyond adequate control and related to this issue of overestimating the interested sides’ and individual practitioners’ statistics. The opioid crisis was conceived from attempts to relieve pain, but the problem of the new medications’ potential possibility to cause addiction was not researched comprehensively, according to the severity of the issue.

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IvyPanda. "Painkillers Distribution and Its Consequences." June 19, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/painkillers-distribution-and-its-consequences/.


IvyPanda. 2022. "Painkillers Distribution and Its Consequences." June 19, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/painkillers-distribution-and-its-consequences/.


IvyPanda. (2022) 'Painkillers Distribution and Its Consequences'. 19 June.

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