Edited by Susan Sadoughi, MD, and André Sofair, MD, MPH
Contrary to its marketing claims, OxyContin’s pain-relieving effects often fall short of 12 hours in many patients, which can lead to a host of other problems, according to an investigation by the Los Angeles Times.
OxyContin is approved for 12-hour dosing. Several studies found that the drug’s effects wore off before 12 hours in about 85% of patients. When the drug doesn’t last the full 12 hours, patients can have their pain return and suffer withdrawal symptoms. The Times reports: “When the agony is relieved by the next dose, it creates a cycle of pain and euphoria that fosters addiction.”
The manufacturer pushed back when doctors began prescribing the drug on an 8-hour schedule, concerned that more frequent dosing would affect sales, the Times reports. Instead, the company recommended higher doses, which puts patients at greater risk for overdose. One study found that one in 32 patients taking high doses of OxyContin had a fatal overdose.