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Just how serious is OxyContin addiction? Pharmaceutical company fined over $630 million dollars for misleading the public on addiction risk

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posted 08:37 PM EST, Sat July 21, 2007

Since its introduction in 1995, the pain killer OxyContin has resulted in increasing patterns of abuse. It became one of the most powerful and most addictive street drugs and, for years, doctors prescribed the pain killer without knowing how addicting it really was. Hundreds of people have died as a direct result of their addiction to OxyContin.

According to the DEA, in 2002 alone, OxyContin caused 146 deaths and contributed to another 318. Doctors prescribe the popular pain medication because they were told by its manufacturer Purdue Pharma that the drug was less addictive and less prone to abuse than any other pain killers on the market. Despite these problems, OxyContin had become one of the leading opioid painkillers on the market. In 2001, OxyContin was the highest sold drug of its kind, and in 2000, over 6.5 million prescriptions were written, according to the Drug Policy Alliance (http://www.drugpolicy.org/drugbydrug/oxycontin/).

Last week, a United States district court had a different opinion. After hours in court and testimonies from former OxyContin addicts and family members of those who had died from OxyContin, U.S. District Judge James Jones imposed a fine of $630 million dollars and criminal charges against company officers of Purdue Pharma L.P. Officers of the company were charged with misbranding the drug. Over the years they heavily downplayed the risk of OxyContin, with horrific results to many families. Hundreds of addicts have died as a result of the drugs widespread availability. A memorial site (OxyAbuseKills) lists many victims, often young people in their prime.

OxyContin caused just as many problems for patients trying to overcome pain as it did for drug users. Many patients found that the pain of OxyContin withdrawl was far worse then the pain they were being treatment for, according to a spokesperson for ChooseHelp Treatment Centers (http://www.choosehelp.com) – a renowned rehab provider that offers specialized OxyContin treatment programs.

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