OxyContin gets political as Jeb Bush slams label expansion for kids, excess prescriptions
- During a campaign event at the Hollis Pharmacy & General Store in New Hampshire on Wednesday, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush called the recent label expansion of Purdue Pharma's OxyContin to include children "inappropriate," Politico reports.
- Bush also went on to criticize the over-prescribing of powerful medications, saying that this could lead to serious, adverse downstream consequences.
- The FDA decided in August to expand OxyContin's label to include children as young as 11, arguing that the drug is often prescribed off-label anyway. The version indicated for children is a slow-release reformulation.
Bush's broadsides against over-medication speak to one major growing concern in the healthcare sector—namely, that pain pills are dispensed like candy and helping fuel an ongoing opioid addiction crisis that can devolve into heroin addiction, which has ravaged large swaths of the country (especially in New England).
"This is not appropriate," said Bush of the label expansion for OxyContin. "We have to take a pause and recognize that pain is part of life. You have to monitor pain and deal with it. But overprescribing creates all sorts of adverse problems as well."
The presidential hopeful went on to criticize a culture of over-prescribing, saying that prescription drugs are now often Americans' introduction to narcotics.
"We overmedicate in this country. The gateway drug isn’t marijuana anymore... Prescription drugs—we’re way over-prescribing as a nation, and that creates big hardship for families," he said. "There needs to be a dialog about that."
This issue has increasingly come under the spotlight, and a growing chorus of critics have been willing to place at least some of the blame at the pharmaceutical sector's feet. In one notable instance, the police chief of Gloucester, MA published the names of major pharma CEOs (including the chiefs of Pfizer, Merck, and others) in an effort to address the connections between prescription opioid addiction and future heroin use.
Representatives from both Pfizer and Purdue are expected to meet with chief Leonard Campanello to discuss the issue.
For its part, the pharmaceutical industry has been attempting to create more abuse-deterrent formulations of power pain medications.