News Articles Text Version

Date 12/21/2009
News Source 48 hrs Transcript
Headline From 48hrs.... Prescription for trouble?;
Article Text From 48hrs.... Prescription for trouble?; alleged addictiveness of OxyContin for pain ANCHORS: DAN RATHER REPORTERS: PETER VAN SANT BODY: PRESCRIPTION FOR TROUBLE? (Footage of pills) DAN RATHER, host: (Voiceover) Seven years ago, the powerful painkiller OxyContin didn't even exist. Today, the Drug Enforcement Administration says abuse of the legal drug is growing faster than any other prescription remedy in decades. Accounts continue to multiply of rehab centers filling up with OxyContin addicts. After all, the experts say, it just takes one new prescription to expand the drug's circulation. To be sure, millions of Americans are finding pain relief, thanks to this drug some say is nothing less than a miracle. But now there is another group of people who say they, too, have been caught in OxyContin's grip--addicted, legal users caught unaware. Peter Van Sant investigates. (Footage of home; dog; Reynolds family) PETER VAN SANT reporting: (Voiceover) Diane Reynolds is not your typical drug addict. Ms. DIANE REYNOLDS: I've never been addicted to coffee, Pepsi, nothing. (Footage of Reynolds) VAN SANT: (Voiceover) She's a stay-at-home mom from Portland, Maine, raising her three kids with her husband, Craig. Ms. REYNOLDS: I want you to play this one right here, OK? Seat's in the back. (Footage of Reynolds and children) VAN SANT: (Voiceover) Diane was prescribed OxyContin after back surgery three years ago. Ms. REYNOLDS: Thinking back to my first year on OxyContin, it was a wonderful drug. I took it. (Footage of OxyContin bottle and pills) Ms. REYNOLDS: (Voiceover) I had no pain. It made me feel wonderful. (Footage of Reynolds and children) VAN SANT: (Voiceover) Then everything changed. Ms. REYNOLDS: (Voiceover) This drug had a hold on me, and it was telling me what to do. Three times a day, it told me, 'Stop what you're doing, and take this pill.' And I had to sit down and wait for it to kick in. (Footage of Reynolds taking medicine) VAN SANT: (Voiceover) After one year, OxyContin still relieved her pain but at a frightening price. Diane says she had become addicted. CRAIG: The drug dictated her life. She went to the couch, she went flat, she had to get that pill. (Footage of Reynolds) VAN SANT: (Voiceover) And when she tried to quit... Ms. REYNOLDS: (Voiceover) I would have headaches and bone aches and nauseous--completely nauseous, flu-like feelings. (Footage of Swett; Reynolds) VAN SANT: (Voiceover) While Troy Swett abused OxyContin, Diane took the drug as prescribed. Ms. REYNOLDS: (Voiceover) I never took one pill extra. I never abused it. (Footage of pills) VAN SANT: (Voiceover) But they both ended up craving OxyContin. Ms. REYNOLDS: I was showing my kids, you know, a behavior of somebody that is addicted to a drug. (Footage of Purdue building; legal documents; pills) VAN SANT: (Voiceover) Diane is considering suing Purdue Pharma, the makers of OxyContin. Dozens of people are joining lawsuits claiming they became addicted to the painkiller after taking the drug as prescribed. Dr. DAVID HADDOX (Purdue Pharma Spokesman): Patients who are taking OxyContin appropriately don't get addicted. (Footage of Haddox and Van Sant) VAN SANT: (Voiceover) Dr. David Haddox is a spokesman for Purdue Pharma. Does Purdue Pharma owe anything to people like Diane Reynolds, who took OxyContin as prescribed and believes that she became addicted to it and had terrible physical withdrawal when she tried to get off of it? Dr. HADDOX: A person who tells us that they've had withdrawal trying to get off of OxyContin may, in fact, be confusing physical dependence for addiction. But in my practice of prescribing this for over 1,000 patients, I never saw that happen in my practice. Patients got relief, and I didn't have a single case of addiction. Mr. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (Connecticut Attorney General): For a substantial proportion of the people who take it, OxyContin is addictive. (Footage of Blumenthal; Purdue building; commercial) VAN SANT: (Voiceover) Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who has been carefully monitoring the company's marketing activities, says Purdue Pharma has downplayed the risks of addiction. One example... (Excerpt from OxyContin commercial) VAN SANT: (Voiceover) ...this video, which has been seen by thousands of pain patients. Unidentified Man: (From commercial) Less than 1 percent of patients taking opioids actually become addicted. VAN SANT: What do you think of that statement? Mr. BLUMENTHAL: Well, the scientific literature and the most recent studies show that the percentage of addiction is more like 13 percent, not 1 percent. There's no question that this kind of video belittles, demeans, diminishes the very severe potential for abuse in this drug. (Footage of Purdue Pharma; documents; Blumenthal and Van Sant) VAN SANT: (Voiceover) Purdue Pharma disputes Blumenthal figures and provided us with a number of studies showing addiction rates that are significantly lower. But in the warning packed with every bottle, the company admits, quote, " are not available to establish the true incidence of addition in chronic pain patients," end quote. Blumenthal believes the drug has been inappropriately marketed. Mr. BLUMENTHAL: Until very recently, the marketing and promotion effort was extraordinarily aggressive--trips for doctors, dinners--designed, really, to interest and, in some cases, lure doctors into increasing the levels of prescriptions. (Footage of Blumenthal and Van Sant; advertisement) VAN SANT: (Voiceover) But it's not just Blumenthal who has concerns about Purdue's marketing of OxyContin. This ad that appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine was singled out by the Food and Drug Administration. The ad says, 'Proven effective in arthritis pain.' Dr. HADDOX: Right. VAN SANT: What did the Food and Drug Administration think of this ad? Dr. HADDOX: They objected to the ad after it got into print. We disagreed with them, but we pulled the ad immediately when they told us that they didn't think it was representing the facts the way they're supposed to be represented. (Footage of letter with highlighted section) VAN SANT: (Voiceover) The FDA said the ad's claims about the drug's use as a treatment for arthritis were 'not demonstrated by substantial evidence.' The word the FDA used was 'misleading,' correct? Dr. HADDOX: Yes, that is correct. (Footage of government building; sign reading: Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; ad) VAN SANT: (Voiceover) Since we last aired this broadcast eight months ago, the FDA has indicated in testimony before Congress that with the exception of this particular ad, Purdue Pharma has followed FDA regulations. Dr. WILLIAM HARRIS: How are you doing, Leon? (Footage of Harris and Leon) VAN SANT: (Voiceover) Dr. William Harris from Charleston, West Virginia, says he was pressured by a Purdue Pharma salesman to prescribe the drug for his patients with arthritis. Dr. WILLIAM HARRIS: When I said, 'I--that's entirely inappropriate, and I'm not going to do it,' then we got into a heated exchange. (Footage of Harris) VAN SANT: (Voiceover) In fact, the salesman said the doctor could be sued for undertreating pain. Dr. HARRIS: He was overly aggressive. VAN SANT: Overly committed? Dr. HADDOX: I think they are committed. VAN SANT: Overly aggressive? Dr. HADDOX: I don't think so. I think they are right on the money. (Footage of pills; Purdue building) VAN SANT: (Voiceover) OxyContin has been a gold mine for Purdue Pharma, with more than $1 billion in sales in the last year alone. Mr. ASA HUTCHINSON (Drug Enforcement Administration): Clearly it has been overprescribed. (Footage of Hutchinson and Van Sant) VAN SANT: (Voiceover) Asa Hutchinson, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, is concerned that a number of those prescriptions are ending up in the hands of addicts. Mr. HUTCHINSON: Whenever I ask my agents in the field, 'Well, what is unique about this?' they say it's better than heroin. And so it is extraordinarily powerful, it is extraordinarily d--addictive. (Footage of drug being warmed up; newspaper headline) VAN SANT: (Voiceover) The DEA says the explosion of OxyContin abuse nationwide has reached an epidemic. Mr. HUTCHINSON: (Voiceover) People are dying. We're getting the death certificates in. VAN SANT: Despite your good intentions, didn't your company create a monster here that is, in fact, killing people today and turning people into addicts? Dr. HADDOX: No. The monster in this country is the epidemic of untreated pain. There are 50 million people in the United States who have unrelieved pain. Unfortunately, strong pain medications are sought by addicts. VAN SANT: Purdue Pharma is responding to the problem. They're spending millions on a campaign to educate teens about the dangers of prescription drug abuse, and the company has begun testing a new version of OxyContin, which they say will be more difficult to abuse. Ms. REYNOLDS: I never abused this drug. I never did anything that I wasn't told to do. Unidentified Child: This is fun. (Footage of Reynolds and children) VAN SANT: (Voiceover) But that's little comfort to Diane Reynolds, who recently completed a detox program. Ms. REYNOLDS: I'm very upset that I am in this position. It's harmed me in a lot of ways. It's harmed my family. It's--it's affected my whole entire family. (Footage of Swett; Kathy) VAN SANT: (Voiceover) Coming up, a radical procedure that this mother hopes can cure her son's addiction. Ms. KATHY BERNIER: I just want to hear from Troy. I haven't talked to him. (Footage of Kathy; pills)