Pain Killer: A ''Wonder'' Drug's Trail of Addiction and Death

Overview

Pain Killer

OxyContin, a potent painkiller containing opium-derived oxycodone as its key active ingredient, was first sold in 1996 as a treatment for cancer patients and other chronic pain sufferers. From the start, the drug's manufacturer aggressively marketed its patented time-release formula as a breakthrough in the effort to reduce prescription drug abuse. It wasn't long, however, before thrill-seeking teenagers shattered that illusion of safety; by simply crushing an "Oxy,"...

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Overview

Pain Killer

OxyContin, a potent painkiller containing opium-derived oxycodone as its key active ingredient, was first sold in 1996 as a treatment for cancer patients and other chronic pain sufferers. From the start, the drug's manufacturer aggressively marketed its patented time-release formula as a breakthrough in the effort to reduce prescription drug abuse. It wasn't long, however, before thrill-seeking teenagers shattered that illusion of safety; by simply crushing an "Oxy," they were able to tap into a high so seductive it would come to dominate their lives. Some patients, seeking relief from pain, also found themselves drawn to the drug's dark side.

Pain Killer takes readers on a journey of discovery that begins with the true story of Lindsay, a high-school cheerleader in Virginia who gets hooked on Oxys, and expands outward to explore the critical issues of legitimate pain management, prescription drug abuse, and how the misuse of science by the drug industry threatens the public good. With the fast-rising abuse of prescription drugs by young people ringing alarm bells within government, the how and why behind the OxyContin disaster is a gripping read not only for parents, but also for medical professionals, community leaders, business executives, and all those concerned with this crisis.

The dangers described in Pain Killer also reverberate far beyond the threat from a single drug at a particular moment in time. The focus of our government's war on drugs has clearly misled many of us into thinking that only illegal drugs smuggled from beyond our borders can be abused. As Meier tells the dramatic story, some of the most deadly substances are produced and sold legally right here at home.

THE EXTRAORDINARY AND TRUE STORY OF OXYCONTIN

EQUAL PARTS crime thriller, medical detective story, and business exposé, Pain Killer takes a hard-hitting look at how a powerful drug touted as the salvation for millions triggered a national tragedy. At its inception, the legal narcotic OxyContin was seen as a pharmaceutical dream, a "wonder" drug that would herald a sea change in medical care while reaping vast profits for its maker. It did do that; but it also unleashed a public health crisis that cut a swath of despair and crime through unsuspecting small towns, suburbs, and cities across the country. As reports of OxyContin overdoses made front-page and network news, doctors, narcotics agents, regulators, industry executives, and lawmakers raced in, scrambling to slow the damage. Behind it all stood one of America's wealthiest families, and a drug company whose relentless promotion helped fuel the problem

Written by award-winning journalist Barry Meier, whose special report in the New York Times triggered national interest in OxyContin, Pain Killer chronicles the rise of the multibillion dollar pain management industry and lays bare its excesses and abuses.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
Mr. Meier specifically takes aim at the company that makes OxyContin, Purdue Pharma of Stamford, Conn. He suggests that it was slow to address reports of OxyContin's misuse because the drug brings in revenue of about a billion dollars annually. The Food and Drug Administration also comes in for strong criticism for permitting the early marketing of OxyContin as a relatively nonaddicting pain medication. — David F. Musto
Library Journal
The problem of drug abuse has no simple solution, especially when the drug in question has valid medical uses. How do we make medications accessible to those who need them while keeping them away from those who abuse them? How much responsibility should pharmaceutical companies bear for the misuse of their products? In this well-documented treatise on the narcotic OxyContin, Meier places the blame squarely on the pharmaceutical industry. A New York Times reporter who covers the intersection of business, public policy, and health, he chronicles the development, marketing, advertising, and sale of OxyContin, manufactured by Purdue Pharma, but focuses on that drug's abuse within a particular community in Virginia. The sensationalist title makes the author's bias clear; he characterizes the entire medical specialty of pain management as a front for pushing narcotics. In addition, the text, which started as a Times series, retains its news feature feel. However, the book does a good job of showing that the pharmaceutical industry (like any other) exists to make a profit-which can conflict with the greater social good. Appropriate for larger public libraries; with Rush Limbaugh's recent admission of his addiction to painkillers, there will be interest.Eris Weaver, Redwood Health Lib., Petaluma, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781579546380
  • Publisher: Rodale Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/17/2003
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.24 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Barry Meier is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated investigative reporter for the New York Times and a 2002 recipient of a George Polk Award for outstanding journalism. He lives in New York City with his wife and daughter.

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Table of Contents

Prologue: The Book of the Dead 1
Ch. 1 Pill Hill 5
Ch. 2 Senior Night 27
Ch. 3 A War Against Pain 49
Ch. 4 Magic Bullets 77
Ch. 5 Chicken and Biscuits 105
Ch. 6 Hot Spots 121
Ch. 7 Kiddie Dope 143
Ch. 8 A Tacit Understanding 169
Ch. 9 The Secrets of Dendur 193
Ch. 10 The Body Count 223
Ch. 11 Purple Peelers 249
Ch. 12 New Beginnings 273
Ch. 13 The Pain Industry 289
Afterword 311
Sources and Notes 315
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 3, 2011

    Powerfully written, even handed to boot! A "must read" if....

    if you or anyone in your life has or currently struggles with the disease of addiction or is being prescribed pain medication for any reason. Where there is need for the powerful OxyContin, it also kills. Know as "hilly billy" heroin, this is the well researched and written story of greed and ignorance, benign neglect on the part of government officials who were understaffed and lacking in power. Tragically it is the story of how prescription medication now kills more people in the US than "street drugs." All this and the manufacturer makes billions whether sold legally or... in many cases, where pill mills thrive.

    Does your elderly loved one need the power of OxyContin or is it simply conveniently pushed into the hands of too many untrained doctors? Thanks to this award winner reporter for bring this insightful information forward.

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  • Posted November 27, 2009

    Fascinating book, read it twice

    It's well-researched and presents the human side of addiction. Describes the deceit of the company that made the drug (OxyContin) that fueled America's opioid addiction epidemic. Ahead of its time, since it was published in 2003 and the company was found guilty in 2006 of misbranding and deceitful marketing practices.

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    Posted October 17, 2003

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    Posted January 17, 2009

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