The makers of a drug often criticised for its low efficacy have come out in support of a product that can kill as many as 100 people in just two hours.
In an interview with the BBC’s Outlook programme, the manufacturer of OxyContin said its drug was less potent than heroin, which kills up to 70 people in two hours, and that its side effects were less likely to make people addicted to the drug.
It’s called OxyContin, the company said, and it is the only painkiller currently approved for use by US authorities.
However, it said its opioid is not for sale in the US and other countries.
OxyContin has a high mortality rate, the highest among all opioids.
It has been linked to opioid overdoses in as many people as 1,300 deaths a year in the UK alone.
The BBC interviewed several people who had tried OxyContin and found it difficult to tell the difference between the drug’s euphoric effects and its addictive properties.
One man said he was addicted to OxyContin for more than two years.
He said: ‘I was taking it for five years.
When it finally wore off, I just went and got some heroin.
It’s worse then heroin.’
It’s very easy to get hooked on it.
It just takes a little bit of time and you’re not getting it back.
It takes some time to go from a drug of pain to a drug to a recreational drug.’
Oxycontin’s manufacturer, Purdue Pharma, has said its drugs are not for abuse.’
The data shows that OxyContin is no more effective than heroin in terms of helping people who are in pain,’ said Purdue Pharma’s vice president for marketing and communications, Jeff Reber.
‘It may be the only drug approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to help people who have chronic pain.’
But there is growing evidence that Oxycontin is addictive, with many patients reporting addiction after a single dose.
The American Medical Association (AMA) has said OxyContin has ‘no medical use’.
In 2013, the American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM) said Oxycontin had no medical value and called for the drug to be withdrawn from the market.
In February this year, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that more than 6,000 people had died from opioid overdoses.
According to the AAPM, about 20,000 Americans die each year from prescription painkillers, more than one-third of them from opioids.
In the UK, the Government is reviewing its opioid prescribing guidelines, after the UK saw a rise in the number of deaths caused by opioids last year.
The Royal College of Physicians in the United States has called for tighter regulation of the drug, and for the number and type of opioids to be reduced.
Dr Michael Risbey, from the Royal College, said:’Oxygenated OxyContin’ was not the ‘worst painkiller available’.’
It is an extremely potent drug that is extremely addictive, and many people are dying from it every day.’
We have to ask ourselves: what are the best uses for it?’
Dr Reber said that the drug was ‘not for sale’ in the country and that Purdue Pharma had not responded to requests for comment.
However he said OxyCess, a more potent form of Oxy, was ‘coming off the shelves’ as a result of research in Australia and the US.
He added that the manufacturer has been making changes to OxyCress since its launch in 2009.’
Since the company was acquired, we have taken the best of the OxyCells’ design and we’ve added other ingredients to it.’
As a result, OxyCres have become a stronger and more potent drug.’
The UK Government has said it is reviewing the safety of its own prescription painkiller, although it has not ruled out issuing more licences.
Dr Risby said the Government was still reviewing the effectiveness of the painkiller and that it should be reviewed in the next few months.’
That is what the Government does,’ he said.
‘You have to get the best possible data, but we are not ruling out any of these options.’
The Government is due to release new guidelines in October for prescribing painkillers.