“Opioids are Very Addictive and Not Very Effective After 12 Weeks”
Pfizer has agreed to include in its promotional material that narcotic painkillers carry serious risk of addiction — even when used properly — and promised not to promote opioids for unapproved, “off-label” uses such as long-term back pain. The company also acknowledges there is no good research on opioids’ effectiveness beyond 12 weeks.
Pfizer makes and markets the extended-release opioid painkiller, Embeda, which is not as central to the opioid addiction epidemic as Purdue’slong-acting opioid OxyContin. The Pfizer marketing agreement could serve as a model for other pharmaceutical companies selling opioid drugs.
According to ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative journalism organization, annual opioid sales in the U.S. have more than quadrupled since 1999, reaching $8.5 billion in 2011.
Pfizer is voluntarily drafting an opioid marketing code, a spokesperson told FiercePharma, because Pfizer considers opioid misuse a “public health issue” and is “happy to stand alongside Chicago to ensure that painkillers are marketed responsibly. We want to make sure that the right people who need it, have it.”
Pfizer has created an internal code of conduct that ensures addictive drugs are prescribed to the right patients. And that the opioids are used with all serious risks in mind.
Written Code of Conduct for Marketing Opioid Drugs: Opioids Not for Chronic Pain
Pain management specialists hope the Pfizer marketing agreement will set a standard for manufacturers of narcotics. And further, that the Pfizer marketing agreement will curb the prescription and use of addictive painkillers for chronic pain. Though Pfizer does not sell many opioids compared with other industry leaders, its action sets it apart from companies that have been accused of fueling an epidemic of opioid misuse through aggressive marketing of their products.
Major Opioid Drug Manufacturers Sued for Conspiracy
In 2013, the city of Chicago sued five opioid makers – Johnson & Johnson, Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Endo Health, and Actavis. Pfizer, which sells one opioid painkiller, was not named in the lawsuit.
The city of Chicago suit also claimed the opioids were improperly marketed for long-term treatments of chronic pain; being prescribed for chronic pain such as back pain and arthritis. The prescription painkiller addiction epidemic has been linked to trends in pain management. The lawsuits charge the named companies with distributing misleading medical information, downplaying addiction and lying about the long-term effectiveness of opioids. The cities charge the opioid makers with creating faux “patient” groups demanding “more opioids”.
The Chicago lawsuit also alleges the drug companies bought the opinions of respected doctors. The city of Chicago health plans spent millions of dollars on opioids, reported Crain’s Chicago, which the city says were inappropriately prescribed to city employees.
Over-use of Opioid Painkillers Actually Make Pain Worse
“Given the negative association between receipt of early opioids for acute LBP [lower back pain] and outcomes, it is suggested that the use of opioids for the management of acute LBP may be counterproductive to recovery.”
According to a study in the journal Spine, workers who remained on opioids for more than seven days during the first six weeks after an injury were more than twice as likely to be disabled and out of work a year later. In another study in Spine, workers who received early opioid drugs in morphine equivalent amounts of more than 450 mg “were, on average, disabled 69 days longer than those who received no early opioids” and their “risk for surgery was three times greater.”
In a California study , workers who received high opioid doses actually stayed out of work three times longer and experienced “delayed recovery from work-place injuries,” say other data.
Studies Find No Benefits from Long-term Opioid Use for Chronic Pain
AlterNetrecently reported that Pharma companies churned the chronic pain market to sell opioids despite their ineffectiveness. “Despite more than a decade of booming use of narcotic painkillers for chronic pain conditions, solid evidence of the long-term safety and effectiveness of the drugs is scant to nonexistent,” reported John Fauber of the Journal Sentinel.
Successful Opioid Addiction Treatment: Addiction Recovery and Chronic Pain Management
We treat addiction, as well as underlying chronic pain. Our recovery treatment programs are medically supervised by a licensed inter-disciplinary staff.
We treat opioid addiction on two fronts: addiction and chronic pain. A key member of the Arrowhead Lodge Recovery Staff is Dr. Rob Ashby, M.D., Medical Director, Pain Medicine and Addictionologist is our physician. Dr. Ashby is board certified in pain medicine and addiction medicine.
In addition to allopathic medicine, Dr. Ashby has training in alternative medicine from the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts. He is available to Arrowhead Lodge Recovery clients for physical medicine, pain medicine and addiction medicine.