War on Abuse, Not Patients - Pharmaceutical Executive


War on Abuse, Not Patients

Pharmaceutical Executive

PE: What else is Purdue doing to alleviate this problem?

Friedman: We learned that people were tampering with prescriptions, sometimes by erasing the ink and writing in a new drug or a larger quantity, and sometimes by photocopying prescription pads. Now we offer and provide physicians with tamper-resistant prescription pads free of charge to stop such forgeries. Photocopying those prescriptions causes the word "void" to appear, and tampering with the ink makes it smear. We've made that pad available in 30 states to more than 12,000 opiate prescribers.

We also engaged a panel of outside experts in drug abuse, diversion, pain medicine, epidemiology, and addiction to conduct studies to help us understand where, what, and how prescription drugs are abused and diverted. We hope that the initiative, called the RADARS System-which stands for the Researched Abuse, Diversion, and Addiction-Related Surveillance System-will be the best in the country for measuring the extent and nature of prescription drug abuse.

PE: How have stories of OxyContin abuse affected patient access?

Friedman: Media and law enforcement's attention to OxyContin has made some physicians fearful of prescribing the product. In fact, we've had many calls and letters from patients and their caregivers who are finding it more difficult to get their medication. We've heard stories from legitimate pain patients whose physicians sent them to methadone clinics because they were afraid to prescribe the product.

However, as a result of those problems, stories from patients and input from thought leaders are beginning to emerge and to be heard. As a result, media articles are becoming more balanced.

PE: What are your peers in industry doing to stop prescription drug abuse?

Friedman: The industry has a growing awareness of the problem and a growing willingness to be part of a solution. Purdue is only one of the companies that make prescription drugs that can be and are abused. We want to join with the industry to stop prescription drug diversion and abuse. We are working with former Mayor Rudolf Giuliani to organize the Rx Action Alliance, which seeks to foster a debate about balancing the need to ensure access and address the public health problem of prescription drug abuse.

A large number of organizations, including the American Academy of Pain Management, the American Pharmaceutical Association, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the American Geriatrics Society, and the Association of Oncology Social Workers, are part of the alliance. We are hopeful that industry partners will join us in this effort as well, because the organization will set its own agenda and not be driven by Purdue.


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