Purdue, Maker of OxyContin, Keeps a List of Bad Docs


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Earlier this year, the FDA made headlines when it prevented pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma from continuing to produce generic and crushable versions of the popular opioid OxyContin. The New York Times took note that the company had chosen the opportune moment to release its new tamper-resistant formula: right before the patent on the old formula expired.

On Sunday, Purdue Pharma, and their headline product, were featured in the news again. Apparently, Purdue has been compiling a company database containing information about the reckless prescription habits of doctors. Although it does not share this list with authorities, Purdue acknowledged the role that physicians play in the abuse of OxyContin.

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The list has over 1800 doctor's names, and Purdue said that it began collecting the information in 2002. Purdue attorney Robin Abrams was interviewed by the L.A. Times, and said that the company had called the cops on about 8 percent of the doctors, but also commented that "we don't have the ability to take the prescription pad out of their hand."

The director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, Mitchell Katz, believes that Purdue maintains "an ethical obligation... any drug company that has information about physicians potentially engaged in illegal prescribing or prescribing that is endangering people's lives has a responsibility to report it."

Abrams counters with the suggestion that several doctors in the database may have stopped prescribing, but declined to provide the Times with a realistic number.

Prescription drug abuse is rapidly surpassing alcohol abuse and illicit drug abuse as extremely dangerous for anyone involved; an L.A. Times profile from last year found that over half the overdoses in southern California involved doctor-prescribed pills. The danger is especially real for baby-boomers, who are now suffering more hospital visits and drug overdoses than previously recorded.