Vishal Gulati

Did Endo Pharma Make Opioid Addiction Problem Worse by Reformulating its Pills?

April 4, 2016

But the drug’s manufacturer, Endo Pharmaceuticals, reformulated Opana in 2012. The new pills featured a coating that was intended to make them more difficult to abuse by crushing them into powder or dissolving them.

Source: Opana Coating Led Users To Inject Rather Than Snort Pills : Shots — Health News : NPR

Some will blame it on the ‘law of unintended consequences’ others will blame corporate greed. Opioid addiction is a serious problem in the USA with prescription medicine abuse accounts for more deaths than abuse of any other drug including heroin and cocaine. People getting prescribed opioids for chronic pain were crushing the pills and snorting it so Endo Pharmaceuticals launched a crush resistant formulation and requested FDA to prohibit sale of the older easily crushed pill (which very conveniently killed off competition for their very successful drug called Opana ER).

Not being able to crush the pill into a fine snort friendly powder did not deter hard core abusers, they started to inject it for a kick. And as is often the case with drug users who inject, they shared needles making them susceptible to HIV, Hepatitis C and other blood borne diseases.

What Endo did by pleasing the FDA on the abuse issue and shoring up its business from generic competition is laughingly similar to what Purdue Pharma did with OxyContin. Line by line, just a few years later.

No one can pretend that this was not expected, can we still call these consequences ‘unintended’?

Meanwhile, new federal guidelines restrict physicians from prescribing more than 3 days of opioid painkillers to patients with acute pain. Interestingly, while most people surveyed recently support these guidelines about three times as many people hold physicians responsible for opioid epidemic than those who blame the pharma companies. I wish they knew!