OxyContin Being Tested On Kids... So Drugmaker Can Get 6 More Months Of Patent Protection

from the skewed-priorities dept

Want a sense of just how screwed up the incentives of our patent system are today? Purdue Pharma, the makers of the highly addictive painkiller OxyContin, is now running clinical tests to get the FDA to approve its use for kids as young as 6-years-old. Why? Because the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act section 505A includes a little "gift": if drugmakers conduct clinical studies for their drugs with kids, they can get six more months of patent protection. So even if they don't even sell OxyContin to six year olds, just securing the extended patent, thanks to the massive monopoly rents given to drugs still on patent, Purdue is likely to profit massively. Lots of people are reasonably troubled by this:
“They are doing (the pediatric trial) for patent exclusivity, there’s no doubt about it in my mind — not out of largesse,” said Dr. Elliot Krane, director of pain management at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. “That’s important for their bottom line.”
Of course, some will argue that if this provides better drug availability to kids, and those drugs really help the kids, then perhaps this isn't a bad thing. But, no matter what, the incentives here are highly questionable.

Filed Under: clinical trials, drug patents, fda, oxycontin
Companies: purdue pharma


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  1. identicon
    Mason Wheeler, 5 Jul 2012 @ 11:19am

    Re: Re:

    Sad but true. I used to work at a rehab center, and you would not believe the number of clients who got started that way. Not everyone fits the "junkie profile"; there are a large percentage who got prescribed something way too strong by a clueless doctor or dentist, then kept on it way too long, and then when the doc realized the patient was addicted to pain pills, he cut them off, cold turkey, with no resources or help to manage their addictions.

    That happens more than you'd think, and Purdue isn't even the worst of it. Fun fact: patent or no patent, Mallinckrodt also makes a generic form of OxyContin. But Mallinckrodt is also the company that makes Methadone, which is what you use to treat opioid addiction. So they profit on it both ways!

    Gotta agree, though. Testing OxyContin on kids is a crime against humanity, on par with just about anything Monsanto's done. St. Paul had it right when he wrote that the love of money is the root of all evil.

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