What We're Reading: OxyContin Manufacturers Plan Overseas Expansion

What we’re reading, December 20, 2016: Purdue Pharma, which makes OxyContin, plans to expand its sales of the drug in foreign markets; family members blame hospital for not warning them about low-quality nursing home; a project to place blast sensors on soldiers to learn more about concussions has been discontinued.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, is pursuing a new business strategy to boost sales of the opioid drug in overseas markets including South America, Asia, and Africa. Tactics include seminars designed to reduce “opiophobia,” or doctors’ aversion to prescribing narcotics. According to the investigation, the use of promotional materials that downplay the risk of addiction is reminiscent of “the initial marketing of OxyContin in the US in the late 1990s when Purdue deceived doctors about the drug’s addictiveness.”

Upon a patient’s discharge from a hospital for hip surgery, family members say they were pushed to choose that hospital’s affiliated nursing home, where the patient later died from allegedly neglectful care. According to Kaiser Health News, the hospital failed to warn them that the nursing home had a CMS quality rating of just 1 star, and that the facility had been fined multiple times for insufficient care. Meanwhile, a federal rule that would require hospitals to provide guidance and quality data on nursing homes and other post-discharge facilities has stalled in Congress.

The Pentagon has abandoned an initiative that placed blast sensors on soldiers to gauge pressure caused by an explosion. NPR reports that “the monitoring was discontinued because the gauges failed to reliably show whether service members had been close enough to an explosion to have sustained a concussion, or mild traumatic brain injury.” Before the sensors were retired, data from them suggested that soldiers were commonly exposed to overpressure when firing heavy weapons like recoilless rifles.