OxyContin Painkiller Linked to More Than 400 Deaths
In April 2002, the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) reported that OxyContin has been implicated as the direct cause or main contributing factor in 146 deaths and a likely contributor in an additional 318 deaths.
The DEA based its findings on an a survey of state medical examiners using autopsy data. The DEA said it received a total of 949 reports, in which half involved OxyContin based upon an analysis victim's bodies.
The DEA noted that in 88 of the cases the victim had modertate to high levels of alcohol in their blood, which triggers a life-threatening drug interaction. Interestingly, only nine of the reported deaths involved injecting the drug and only one death related to snorting, which are deemed more dangerous forms of OxyContin abuse. This indicates even non-abusers may be adversely affected.
The drug-maker, Purdue Pharma believes the DEA conclusions were inherently flawed, saying the DEA analysis suffered from serious methodological flaws that undermined its conclusions.
The DEA went on to conclude that the painkiller can be safe if taken as directed by the instructions on the label.
The DEA stated it intends to continue collecting reports of Oxycontin deaths from medical examiners as a means to evaluate how best to protect the public.
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