High Dose Narcotics for Moderate Osteoarthitis???
I’ve blogged before about the use of high dose, long-acting narcotics for moderate osteoarthritis pain. As follow-up, a new study was recently published showing that the drug companies are gearing up to get more of these dangerous drugs on the market for moderate arthritis. This one is a long acting form of Oxycodone, a cousin of the drug Oxycontin. Oxycontin has come under serious fire for being a drug very high abuse potential. With the spotlight firmly on the abuse of these high dose, long acting pain killers, why would anyone approve an indication to use these drugs in an area where definitive treatments exist to fix the problem? While we’re no fan of knee replacement surgery, the average patient with moderate knee arthritis has a host of options to treat his pain – everything from knee steroid shots (which have side effects), to hyaluronic acid injections (SynVisc, Supartz, Efflexa, Hyalgan, etc…), to platelet rich plasma injections, to knee stem cell injection, to knee replacement. Why would any of these knee arthritis patients want to get hooked on narcotic pain killers? The answer is that they don’t. However, this is another example of the business plan driving medicine. These drugs (like oxycodone) are all generic and off patent (which means they generate very little income for the companies that make them). However, by mixing them with a simple “new and improved” binder system and running a few inexpensive clinical trials (compared to the much higher costs of the drug discovery from scratch method), a company can come up with a dirt cheap plan to develop a new drug with huge profit potential. The upshot? There is no medical need for a new narcotic to treat common arthritis pain, but that won’t stop Pharma from adding yet another deadly drug to the abuse arsenal.