OxyNEO: pain relief or advertising addiction?

The patent on OxyContin has run out, the expected profit gone. Is it a coincidence that Purdue has stopped making it and replaced it with the new and improved OxyNEO? If Purdue can get Canadian doctors to prescribe it, their profits will continue.

In a recent edition of the Medical Post, an industry-funded newspaper which goes to all Canadian physicians, there is a 2 page advertisment for Purdue’s new formulation of oxycodone, OxyNEO.

It features a patient profile describing the story of (fictitious) Christine, a 38-year-old married accountant diagnosed three years previously with moderate to severe low back pain. For the last 3 years, her pain been “successfully managed” with a twice-daily dose of OxyContin.

I find this appalling. To try and normalize the narcotization and resultant prolongation of back pain is a cynical attempt to profit from a common, self-limiting condition best managed with simple analgesics and activity. “Yes, Christine, it hurts, but the best thing for you is to realize that the pain will pass and that narcotics will not only prolong it, they are associated with significant risks. Here are some suggestions for anti-inflammatories, ergonomic changes, exercises and perhaps a referral to physiotherapy.”

Narcotics are powerful drugs. Morphine and its derivatives are an essential part of caring for people with serious malignant pain and acute injury. They can have a role in intractable non-malignant pain when other avenues have proven inadequate. But everyone taking narcotics develops tolerance and some become addicted. As a result, it is often very hard to stop if they’ve been taken for more than a short period. Part of the withdrawal can be an increase in pain sensitivity and a vicious, sometimes escalating, cycle can ensue, good for no one but pharmaceutical companies.

A recent editorial in the British Medical Journal by Irfan Dhalla should remind us, physicians and public both, that narcotics are dangerous and should be avoided for the inevitable aches and pains of everyday life.

The comments section is closed.

  • FibrousAlgae says:

    You are the type of medical professional that forces chronic pain patients to the street with your biases and jadedness. Fix yourself before you deeply harm someone if you haven’t already.

  • Danny hebert says:

    I totaly agree 100%

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  • Alison says:

    I have been a Nurse for 30 years. And pain is NOT always what the patient says it is. I have seen many make an income and way of life off opioid addiction. The only way to stop opioid abuse is forced function! Tough love. Save the comments! Ive heard them all.

    • FibrousAlgae says:

      You are the type of medical professional that forces chronic pain patients to the street with your biases and jadedness. Fix yourself before you deeply harm someone if you haven’t already.

  • Kimberly says:

    I agree. Narcotics should not be used for minor aches and pains. Chronic, debilitating, is not everyday aches and pains. It’s like being in a vice in different parts of your body every minute of everyday. When waking up every morning is like being hit by a car, Over and over and it never gets better, it’s not normal aches and pains. If you are unable to walk without your meds it’s not an everyday ache and pain. Chronic Pain is horrible. Unless you have it you have no opinion about it

  • r says:

    Oh come on you people be strong stop taking this stuff being happy takes the pain away think of other things happy things.

  • J. Szelecz says:

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  • jerry pearson says:

    these doctors don’t have any idea how much pain my wife is in and yet they took her off oxyneo and said Ontario government is making him do it the should remember the work for us we are there for help. what to do about this.

  • jerry pearson says:

    doctor took my wife of off oxyneo today she has chronic pain from arthritis he said Ontario government is making him what to do about this.

  • donna says:

    I find your ignorance, and lack of empathy APPALLING!
    Chronic unrelenting pain effects the immune system, the endocrine system just to mention a few things!! I almost broke my back in a bike accident, and it has taken it’s toll on my health and well being, and if it were not for codeine, I don’t know where I would be, it enabled me to work in construction and have a half normal life! By the way, there is a difference between using pain medication for pain, and using pain medication as a junkie! As a matter of fact chronic pain is UNDER-TREATED, leaving millions of people suffering needlessly, the kind of suffering no veterinarian would allow a dog to go through! Your attitude is despicable, selfish and completely blind! The only thing people like you will ever understand is to have your bodies broken in a car accident only to find yourself in the shoes of a chronic pain patient! I really wonder how many people are driven to buy pain medication from the streets???? I wonder how many of these pain patients died accidentally because they bought something they thought was something other than what they were told they were buying, and were considered JUST ANOTHER JUNKIE??
    Real junkies, politicians, and people like you are the real problem! Narcotics are considered a necessary medication by the world health authorities, and we are real people who have not had our pain taken seriously! You are an insult to human intelligence!!

    • Greg says:

      I agree with what u say. I also broke my back last year in a dirt bike accident shattered my l1 l2 l3 I got rods in it now and my dr was more concerned about having to percribe me long term then my pain. Even tho I told him he was tappering me to fast I was dealing with widthdrawl and pain and when I finally went to him as he requested if I’m running into issues I come to him well I did and he cut me off morphine just like that. They cover their asses first. I was given oxy years ago for a not so bad injury back when oxy was being pushed by drs and I got caught up in it. Used methadone and eventually got off so all was good. Well i have a major accident and there more worried about me getting addicted and sure i did but soon as my dr cut me i went got on suboxone tapered right away got to .5 mg and stopped. I’m still in alot of pain but to have to stress about having meds and no pain and not feel sick i just chose i gotta accept something here so if i was junkie I wouldn’t of chose tk get off and accept pain but my dr was more concerned about him being on the hook just cuz me like anyone else u take opioids for a not short time I dony care who u are u do become defendant which is alot different then addicted so if you have chronic pain and are able to not abuse the meds and have proven your not looking for a high but pain relief who the hell are drs to say I’m not giving you what will make your life better but on the flip side not everyone is thst way and inevitably will end up a junkie. I’ve proven 2 times now I can get off the meds but u think my dr will help me… nope. It’s unfortunate but i can relate to your comment..

    • Danny hebert says:

      I agree with you
      As soon I do physical effort my neck back and shoulder inflamed so much with severe degenerate disk it hurt so much including arthritis, it’s a constant battle , its chronic now and if I don’t take pain medication ; I am crying of pain ..no joke .
      its started in 2012 with with contruction work and bicycle fall .Someone who never had this kind of pain that no one can’t see dosen’t have any idea how pain med help half the way I used to live. Thank you and I understand you guys totally.
      Good luck and I wish me luck also so they don’t take away a part of my life that is already difficult . I am now almost 52 and used to make $5000 a month and now I live on $800 dollars a month if they take away my oxyneo , I wouldn’t have a life at all .good luck once again I hope they give your medication for the rest of your life to have a decent half life. My name is Danny

  • Joan David says:

    Others have responded appropriately to other errors here; I just want to poke fun at the idea that patients with uncontrolled or poorly managed chronic pain can reasonably be expected to have the surplus of spare time and money that allows one to make “ergonomic changes,” and visit a physiotherapist regularly, et cetera.

    Serious chronic pain is not only a physical problem; it is a quality of life issue that can cut one’s earning power to the bone, and leave one struggling to find the capacity to take care of the basics of life — my ‘exercise’ is trying to keep up with cooking, cleaning, child care — there isn’t anything left, physically, for physical leisure activities. Physicians unable to picture a life different from their own are not useful care providers.

    I wouldn’t go so far as to vindictively state “I hope you find yourself in the position, suffering from pain so bad you can’t even think…” but dear god, I hope this person is not pretending to ‘treat’ any patients with serious pain issues.

    I have on a few occasions discontinued opiates to sort of re-set things, and find out where my pain is in the absence of medications. It’s work to go through the withdrawal, but I’ve never had a problem voluntarily doing this. It’s absurd to conflate pain patients with the psychologically addicted and claim “it is often very hard to stop.” It’s not. The drug manufacturers may be behaving poorly, but so are scare-mongering physicians.

    What IS ‘very hard’ is going through life in routine physical agony. Physicians unwilling to provide pain control for “moderate _to severe_” pain must remember that suicide is sometimes a side effect of chronic pain problems. Opiate side effects are a cakewalk compared to the side effects possible with inadequately controlled pain.

    • donna says:

      you are exactly right!

    • donna says:

      I am willing to go so far s to wish my pain on them! It is the only thing they might understand….I am tired of their stone age, flat earth, politically correct bull&%$#!!

  • Name (required) says:

    You have obviously never been in severe pain. It ruins your life and makes everyday tasks become insurmountable obstacles. It even changes who you are. I hope you find yourself in the position, suffering from pain so bad you can’t even think. It would change your outlook on the subject, giving you real experience to write this type of articles.

  • Jason says:

    My opinion is if you needed it for pain management you wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss it as proper therapy. When you suffer from the same level of pain as I do, you will try anything to get the pain to subside.
    I don’t take illegal drugs and the people comparing oxyneo to heroine are ridiculously uniformed they are not the same at all.
    The criminal thing here really is there really no better true alternatives. Your comments about analgesics are amusing in that these medications are not at all comparable. Your comments remind me of this whole blame the patient mantra, that excess weight is the cause of the pain, which also proves to me that you have been sadly misinformed and not suffered the way many oxyneo patients have. Also any doctor that prescribes narcotics for the “aches and pains of life”, should be jailed for thee embarrassing lack of ethics. As most patients are not educated enough to make the decision to take what’s prescribed to them by their doctors.

  • Greg Green says:

    Written by someone who has obviously never had to deal with excruciating and debilitating pain that cannot be relieved with anything other than a narcotic.
    When all else fails including every kind of alternative therapy including exercise, physiotherapy, acupuncture, acupressure, chiropractic treatments, yoga, thai yoga, laser/infrared heat, reiki, rolfing, cupping, massage, muscle bio feedback, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, guided imagery, hypnotherapy, therapy animals, herbal remedies, reflexology, super nutritional juicing and every over the counter med known to man, than I believe narcotics should be available.
    At the end of this road all I have to show for it is a depleted bank account and the realization that I’ve been had on many occasions but still willing to try whatever quasi medical treatments come along on the hope no matter how slim that perhaps this time it would work to ease the pain no matter how small the amount.
    After all of this over the course of 20 years my doctor finally puts me on oxycontin. Thank the Gods for this fantastic pain reliever.
    Can it be abused and cause an overdose? Absolutely. Can you overdose and die from too much aspirin? You bet. ANY drug can be abused and cause death. This is no reason to keep it from people who have already run the gamut of available treatments. I’m not advocating that narcotics be prescribed like a Pez candy dispenser but the medical community needs to prescribe and use these god given pain relievers as they were intended. Surely after 8 years of education they can deduce who is a legitimate chronic pain patient . If not they need to hang up their stethoscopes and go dig ditches. Of course, that may lead to a bad back and chronic pain.
    By the way Shelagh McRae, you should thank your lucky stars that you haven’t been in the kind of pain that warrants a narcotic. Until you are, you are in no position to judge those that are.

    • donna says:

      The intent of politicians and pharmaceutical companies is to have chronic pain patients on anti-depressants, which kill, or on the newest greatest anti-inflammatories which cause kidney and liver failure, not to mention heart attacks….. there is no money in narcotics….no patent, no big money…. Drug dealers on the street have more compassion than many doctors…I mean quacks with a medical licence!!!

  • Anna says:

    I am a 67 year old diabetic who has suffered from neuropathy in my lower back for years. I have tried every type of physiotherapy available and chiropractic available including lasers, magnets, healing hands, spine decompression and prayer. Without oxyneo at a low dose every day, in tandem with another non opioid drug I would be completely non functional with severe to moderate pain. Because of my diabetes I have to exercise daily and for my sanity I have to interact socially. Am I physically dependent-of course. Am I abusing the drug-no. Do I have a quality of life that allows me travel and social interaction-yes. Do I thank God every day for the doctor who put together my chronic pain management-yes.

    If you have not suffered pain every minute of every day, walked a mile in those shoes, or know of a better answer, keep an open mind and be thankful you don’t need help to function as a productive member of society.

  • Dave says:

    I have Fibromyalgia and have had it since 1982 when they called it Fibrositis I was 20 years old. I am now 51 yrs old. 31 years of suffering.

    My case is extreme and the pain is debilitating / unbearable widespread pain throughout my body. I have non restorative sleep and gout in both feet along with bursitis in both legs along with terrible fatigue where I need bouts of sleep throughout the day in order to continue working with the exhaustion. I have depression associated with this chronic condition, being in pain 24/7 and realizing I will not die from this but I will have this for the rest of my life day in and out.

    I am treated with medication for the low serotonin. A chemical derived from the amino acid tryptophan and widely distributed in tissues. It acts as a neurotransmitter, constricts blood vessels at injury sites, and may affect emotional states. I also take medication to fall into REM sleep, I wake up feeling like I have not had any sleep.

    For all you who say that the medication is what it is I can only say that if it were not for pain medication you too would eventually want you’re suffering to end as well. The quality of life with pain day in and out, well it’s not very high on any patient’s scale.

    I have big responsibilities to my family and although my condition is beyond disable, I continue to work and live as best a normal life given all the obstacles I must overcome daily. I cry out for relief and wish I had a choice not to take this medication.

    But you to will do the same as me, you are not in my pain and until you are you really should be a bit more open minded. Not everyone who uses strong medication and refuses to suffer is a drug addict. We just want relief and normality in our life from our suffering and it’s that simple. I wish you could feel and walk in my footsteps for a couple of hours let alone a life time.

    If you are a drug addict so be it, but if you are truly suffering why would you not want to stop your pain and try to improve the quality of life (for the little time we all really have) and try and have somewhat of a better life. If not for me then for my children who rely on me day in and out!!!

    The people I find who do all the negative talking are not in pain at all and can only look at what they read or know of someone or heard or watched on TV and without an open mind until the day they are in pain and cry out to their GOD for help they will just keep talking. Not looking at the other side and wondering how many people are not suffering as much anymore due to Purdue.

    Hopefully all you skeptics negative people, I guess I can say that you are right the drug is dangerous if you are a drug addict or have motive to use it when it is not actually needed, like to the patients who lie to their doctor’s and get away with it, even if these people have pain that is so mild it will get better after a few months, you do not need Oxyneo in any strength.

    However if you have severe pain and your condition is chronic then why would you do anything else but get up and get help?

    Sorry to say you are all big talkers until the day comes that you may need pain relief. It’s not only cancer that is painful it’s just that you just die from that.

    Would you tell your mother or father who had cancer they are not permitted to relieve their suffering.

    Stop judging other people because there really are people who need this medication not everyone is a liar.

    • Frank says:

      Most if not all people will do anything to stop severe pain and that is why the US government chose to forgo morality and use torture. I myself have a chronic pain condition from a crush injury and if it were not for these drugs I would either be curled up in a ball 24 hours a day or dead by my own hand.

      The difference between a person that has a medical condition or is a “junkie” is based on what the type of pain they choose to use these and other chemicals for. The “junkie” takes narcotics or alcohol to treat their emotional pain. They choose to medicate in place of achievement, to dull the emotional pain of regret and loss.

    • Xenobia says:

      My goodness!!! Your story is mine to a capital”T”. I developed Fibro in the midst of pregnancy, was wheelchair bound & tho I feel I have been at death’s door too many times to mention, most ppl still think I am a drug addict! 16 yr nightmare, the same doc for 15yrs yet I am treated like a drug addict by even other doctors. I do not use any illicit drugs or alcohol or cigarrettes. I was on Oxycontin without incident for most of the time since my diagnosis then the big switch to NEO, which is a worse nightmare than pain if that’s imaginable. The doc is trying to b merciful, as he attempts to switch me from oxycontin to NEO again & I think death wld be kinder. NEO does not work, I believe it is a bloody PLACEBO! I’ve never been a drug addict, no history. Now I suffer horribly bcz of the damn politics of these meds. It feels like I’m in 3rd world country during wartime – YESSS this is Canada smdh. Dave, my prayers are with you & all of those like us who have to suffer for abso no reason

      • Brenda Smith says:

        My doctor put me on OxyNeo, 20 mg am & pm. It doesn’t work, I don’t get any relief and wonder the same thing. It’s frustrating being in pain 24/7 while I wait another 5 months for hip replacement surgery, it’s been 13 months wait already. I live in Calgary, Alberta Canada and have written letters regarding this wait time and the lack of pain meds that work, seems doctors now are scared to prescribe effective drugs!!

      • Kimberly says:

        I agree I took oxyneo 10 mg AM and PM. IT DID NOTHING. ONLY THE 5/325 Percocet works. Told my dr and he took me off the oxyneo. Why take Something *that does nothing. Is it possible it just doesn’t work for some people? I get better relief with 1 perk. It’s a lower,dose. I don’t understand.

    • Octavia Ramirez says:

      would love to talk to you about this further. Could you contact me at octavia.ramirez@themarkstudios.com

    • Paul Roy chandler says:

      Dave your words are sincere I to suffer from pain but gave my script up & tried methadone instead now 2years later I’m back to suffering I have pain all over In coxsic low back l 4-5 disc upper thoracic area neck& head injury I am at end of my rope so to speak.

    • Kimberly says:

      I agree without my percost I would not be here long. I don’t abuse it. Why would I. It makes my life liveable. I can function. The people who abuse it don’t connect it to their pain. I think they want to get high. Therefore take more when not needed. But if you suffer from chronic pain, drs don’t know how to help you, I have muscle atrophy in front thigh( basically muscle is disappearing, I have tendonosis but cannot get cortisone in bursa because the tendon will rupture. My gluteus minimus and medius Both have tears and are atrophying. My left knee is now deformed. My calf is always cramped I have burning in my shin. My lower back have a mildly pinched nerve, and lots of fishers , little cracks in spine. I have the opposite curve in spine I am suppose to. I have done cortisone and epidurals in my spine to help. But they did nothing. My problem is muscles, tendons, cartilage, and being over 50. I have been fighting with this for 3 years. Test after test after test but no one does anything.I am just getting worse. Somedays I feel so hopeless, helpless, And scared. Nobody knows what’s causing any of this. Why the fuck not!!!!! Anyway taking pain meds is the only option I have. They work so I take them. I don’t want them to stop working so I will never take more then needed.

  • James O'Reilly says:

    I just losed my son to a heroin overdose. He was a hard working 24 year old and just came down for his 7 days off from Ft. McMurray. I picked him up from the airport on October 3 and received a phone call 12 hours later he was dead. What I have found out since is he got addicted to Oxycodinafter a surgury and when the perscriptions ran out he started buying then on the street. When they changed the pill to OxyNeo it sent him to the next level buying and snorting heroin. Talking to many kids they all say the same thing “This is the devels drug” One kid told me about his addiction to it and how he begged his doctor to get him of it. He had to go into rehab just to get off them. One other young man in our community committed suicide 2 days later. He had been addiced to Oxy, moved up to heroin when through rehab and then hung himself.
    I want to make it clear this drug should be banned and we need to lobby government to do so. I would like to join in on any class action lawsiut if there is one in BC

  • Linda Wilhelm says:

    I find it interesting that Sheilagh lists physiotherapy as an option for pain management. In New Brunswick access to a physiotherapist in the public system is next to impossible. I have severe Rheumatoid Arthritis for almost 30 years and am currently experiencing a flare up of my S I joint, pressing on my sciatic nerve. Fortunately I have a very good private health insurance plan that gives me $600.00 of physio per year and it only took me a week to get an appointment with a therapist that I have seen before. I tried to get into another private clinic that offered acupuncture as a treatment option, they had no appointments available for a month. Fortunately I have a knowledgeable physician who is confident in treating chronic pain, yes with a narcotic. I can’t imagine how bad this flare up would be had I not been able to sleep for the past 5 weeks due to the extreme pain. Now I am well on the road to recovery which will mean, as it has it the past, a drastic reduction in the dosage of my pain medication. Until the Canadian Health care system is able to treat chronic pain appropriately, patients like me have little choice but to take medication to have some kind of quality of life.

  • kathy hardill says:

    I agree with shelagh that the loss of patent protection and the introduction of oxyneo are undoubtedly related – although i do think that ultimately fewer people will still be on long acting oxycodone a year from now than are currently since the product will no longer be covered by provincial drug benefit programs without exceptional access approval – in order to get that, patients will have had to try alternative long acting opiates for at least 3 months and then prescribers will have to apply to the exceptional access program, for every single patient, to see if ongoing coverage is approved – i know the docs i work with have essentially decided to try to switch everyone on long acting oxycodone to an alternative well before that deadline – so, purdue will not be realizing as much profit over the long term. They may well need the money, though, because the costs of the lawsuits they are presently fighting might be big. The four maritime provinces have come together in a class action to sue purdue pharma for lying about the safety of its product – with a view to recouping the provincially borne costs of treating the epidemic of opiate addiction seen after the introduction of oxycontin – and there are also suits being waged against the american corporation south of the border – it’s interesting that world wide canada is one of the top three countries in terms of high rates of opiate use – not sure why, perhaps b/c of the lack of affordability of modalities like physio?

    and then of course there is the other issue of lack of government support for mental health and addictions treatment which is appalling and which is currently being illuminated by the rise in demand for treatment resulting from the loss of the original oxycodone formulation from the illicit market – although of course people have already figured out how to transform oxyneo into snortable and injectable forms using everything from a dremmel tool to a belt sander – supply and demand, folks

  • Bruce says:

    I find it appalling that OxyNeo advertising is going the same route the oxycontin literature! To me, this proves addiction was NEVER a concern of Perdue (hey, addiction to their products is their business) but they were able to whip decision-makers into a lather, and use the straw-man to deflect their true goals.

    I am certainly of the opinion that OxyNeo is more about patent protection than anything else. The debate, I think, was hijacked and should’ve had more focus on how Perdue fooled regulators & doctors with their faulty trials and marketing. Instead of more patent protection, some of their profits should be used to fund addiction treatment. After all, the explosion in prescriptions were, in part, a result of pharma marketing and ‘studies’ showing benefits in more & more types of pain outside cancer. Perdue didn’t complain when even minor back tweaks were given an Rx (it was, after all, not habit forming).

    For better or worse, my MD wrote me a script shortly after this came on the market (I have OA in both elbows from heavy labour over-use) because this was so much better than everything else on the market. Now, I’m stuck; I looked into quitting (medically supervised, of course) and I’d replace OxyContin with Methadone & i would probably be on the program for the rest of my life.

    Now, I’m changing to Neo, and find it to have more side effects and no benefits (save for Purdue execs & shareholders). My problems aren’t as severe as non-Rx users, who either can’t get the drug or are facing astronomical price increases due to scarcity; however, IF addiction were truly a concern for governments, pharma, doctors, a HUGE opportunity has been missed and will never present itself again. Ask yourself, how much would Purdue have been willing to pay for more patent protection; now multiply your number by itself, and chances are this number is still too low. My point being, we never even asked for a quid pro quo or ‘cleanup’ fee, from the source of the problem.

  • Ann Silversides says:

    The registrar of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, who was a witness at last year’s Brockville coroner’s inquest into one death from oxycontin (& a related suicide), recommended some OHIP funding for non-pharmaceutical interventions (such as physio therapy ) and the jury also made this recommendation. But how to promote these approaches when faced with the advertising/promotion dollars of the pharmaceutical firms? It’s the same old story.


Shelagh McRae


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