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Oxycontin: Drug of Miracle or Menace?

Essay by   •  February 24, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  2,168 Words (9 Pages)  •  1,418 Views

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Oxycontin: Drug of Miracle or Menace?

In December of 1995 something was introduced in the medical field that, along with turning the field around, would cause more controversy and bickering than any previous drug. OxyContin, also known as OC's, Oxy's and Hillbilly Heroin, is a potentially powerful painkiller that is normally used for terminally ill patients in extreme pain, such as cancer patients. OxyContin: Is it a savior or killer? The recent deaths from the misuse of OxyContin have caused government officials as well as the manufacturers of OxyContin to begin taking steps in trying to curb its abuse. However, this "Miracle Drug" as it was called by Meier and Peterson in their article "Sales of Painkiller Grew Rapidly..." has taken a turn for the worse. This prescription painkiller is now the most powerful, most addictive and most sought after drug on the streets. OxyContin is destroying the lives of people everyday, right before our eyes. The abuse of this little pill is continually growing and resulting in broken families, destroyed lives in teens and adults, and increased depression and suicidal tendencies. So what has society and its government done to even slow this issue down? Absolutely Nothing.

If only the public could step into the lives of the addicted and their families they would see the heartache and pain that is evolving from this medicine. Once this drug is in the body's system it becomes extremely addictive, and the more of it that is taken, the more toleration you acquire, therefore you need a higher dosage. "OxyContin, like morphine, has a high potential for abuse. It is supplied in a controlled-release dosage form and is intended to provide up to 12 hours of relief from moderate to severe pain. The tablet must be taken whole and only by mouth. When the tablet is crushed and its contents are injected intravenously or snorted into the nostrils, the controlled release mechanism is defeated and a potentially lethal dose of oxycodone is released immediately."(fda.gov)This drug knows no boundaries, and it lures in people of all types. Brantley Bishop, a narcotics investigator in Alabama said "Nobody is immune from this, I'm seeing housewives; I'm seeing loggers, nurses, mechanics" (Meier and Peterson, A-15). Another example is a man from St. Charles, Virginia who stated that "Dr. VanZee has seen the destruction the drug has caused in the valleys and small mining towns of the southwestern part of his state. He said he was treating OxyContin overdoses in youngsters he had vaccinated as infants" (Meier and Peterson, A-15). We just don't seem to grasp the concept of how huge this problem is. "Abuse and addiction involving OxyContin have spread quickly in the last two years, flaring up in at least a dozen states. And while the illegal use of OxyContin took root in the rural areas along the East Coast, it has begun moving into cities like Philadelphia" (Meier and Peterson, A-15). This drug has spread throughout Southwest Virginia and its destructive path is claiming more lives and causing a rise in crime rate, not to mention continuing to take those unexpected families by surprise. Pretty soon everyone will be have access to these deadly pills and as Southwestern Virginia and Kentucky's death tolls continue to climb, the government sits and watches.

When it was first introduced, the pill wasn't even thought to have abusive potential. "OxyContin was originally thought to be less prone to abuse because its narcotic was locked in a time-release formula. That meant it would not produce the quick spike of euphoria that drug abusers crave. But abusers quickly discovered how to disarm the time-release formula; they simply crushed the tablet, then swallowed, inhaled or injected the powder to give themselves a high as powerful as heroin's" (Meier and Peterson, A-15). The government said that "no prescription drug in the last 20 years has been so widely abused so soon after its release" ("Curb Wide Abuse") This little pill comes in five different dosages: 10's, 20's, 40's, 80's and 160's, all explaining the total number of milligrams. On the street each pill is worth the number of milligrams such that a forty is forty dollars and an eighty is eighty dollars. This would explain why "Communities in Maine, Kentucky, and Virginia have been devastated by crime waves involving OxyContin addicts" ("Curb Wide Abuse"). Crime rates continue to increase and more crimes are being committed for the sole purpose to buy or sell these fatal little mind controlling pills.

The next issue that deals with OxyContin is the manufacturer's opinion. Purdue Pharma L.P. claims that they have taken voluntary steps to fight the abuse of their "Miracle Drug" and they are working to reformulate the product, however, they refuse to curb the production or take it off the market. "OxyContin, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in late 1995 for treating moderate or severe pain, is the leading narcotic painkiller sold in tablet form in the United States. Last year, its sales in this country exceeded $1 billion" ("Curb Wide Abuse"), of which most were probably unnecessary, not to mention the fact that it "also now accounts for 80 percent of Purdue Pharma's revenue" (Meier and Peterson, A-15). Many believe that the manufacturer cares nothing about the side effects of their drug as long as they make money, and from the looks of things they certainly are rolling in the cash. "The problem with this drug is the company" (Meier and Peterson, A-15), said a druggist in Grundy, Virginia, and I think he's right. Along with all the crime rates and family problems, OxyContin is continuing to claim lives because of fatal overdoses. An "extensive federal review of autopsy data has found that the powerful painkiller OxyContin is suspected in playing a role in the overdose deaths of 282 people in the last 19 months" ("Overdoses"). "Five hundred people have died since the start of 2000 from overdoses involving oxycodone, the active narcotic in OxyContin and other popular painkillers" ("Overdoses"). In another study it was found that "OxyContin might have played a role in 464 drug overdoes deaths in the last two years" (Meier, "May Top Early Count"). These statistics portray the negative effects of Oxy's, what more proof is needed for it to be taken off the shelves? Drug Addiction has been a problem in the United States for a while now; however, it has never been focused around a drug of such harshness.

Everyone knows that we have possessed a drug problem for awhile now, but the conditions then and the conditions

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