Jick and porter aimed to find a relation to the use

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study of pain among hospital patients in the New England Journal of Medicine. Jick and Porter aimed to find a relation to the use of narcotics for acute pain for a short period of time and narcotic addiction. They were able to review the medical records of around 39,000 hospital patients and 12,000 of them received opioids while in the hospital. Of the 12,000 patients receiving opioids, only four developed an addiction to them. They reported their findings to the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, and their five-sentence letter had been cited 608 times as a tool to support opioids. The findings were in a letter to the editor and was not peer reviewed. More importantly, the study was on hospitalized patients that cannot control how
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much or when they take the drug, rather than patients that are able to take the drug home. More concern for the health concern that was untreated pain spurred some individuals in the medical community to treat pain as the “fifth vital sign,” meaning that every doctor must address pain as seriously as they address temperature, pulse, breathing rate and blood pressure. The group of scientists and medical professionals were named the American Pain Society, and they advocated for adjustments in public policy and medical practices that can cater to patients dealing with pain. Little did Jick, Porter, or any of the advocates know, they have inspired a marketing campaign that would be destructive for the next 20 years and beyond. This call for medical professionals to take pain more seriously would ignite a fire within large pharmaceutical companies, such as Purdue to start producing opioid-based painkillers. In 1996, the same year the increasing concern for pain medication became prevalent, Purdue Pharma released a new prescription opioid pill named OxyContin. For next few years, Purdue Pharma and other companies pushing prescription painkillers like Oxycontin were attempting to appeal to doctors in just about any way they could. In just after seven years after releasing OxyContin, the number of sales representatives promoting the opioid painkiller increased by 73 percent. Purdue and other large pharmaceutical companies would travel to various clinics around the country, trying to educate health care professionals about their painkillers by also offering incentives for pushing their drug. Purdue used advertising tactics to convince doctors to prescribe OxyContin such as sending doughnuts spelling out “OxyContin” for skeptical doctors, cash prizes up to $20,000 and travel and lodging expenses to prestigious medical conferences if they would visit their booth. In an interview held by WebMD, Walter Ling, a psychiatrist and director of the Integrated Substance Abuse Programs at UCLA said, “the drug companies were ‘educating’ the doctors, but there’s a very thin line between educating doctors and promoting
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your product.” As stated earlier, the problem that physicians had with the use of opioids for pain, was that the patients could be addicted to them. Purdue had an answer to that already and would
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  • Spring '13
  • LesleyRosenburg

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