Pubdate: Thu, 29 Dec 2016
Source: Philadelphia Daily News (PA)
Copyright: 2016 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.
Author: Tom Avril, Staff Writer


[photo] Toby Talbot / APWith prescriptions dropping in the United States,
companies have started to promote OxyContin and other opioid drugs in
Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.

A former adjunct associate professor at Temple University has helped a
leading maker of opioids promote potentially addictive pain medications in
new foreign markets that have not yet seen an overdose crisis like that in
the United States, a Los Angeles Times investigation has found.

The physician, Joseph V. Pergolizzi Jr., is based in Naples, Fla., and has
not been affiliated with Temple since June 2014, the school said.

In April, Pergolizzi lectured at a cancer pain seminar in Brazil sponsored
by Mundipharma, an international network of pharmaceutical companies that
sell OxyContin and other opioid drugs, the Times reported.

In an interview, Pergolizzi called the Times article "very misleading" and
said that the current backlash against opioids will deprive cancer
patients of a vital tool for managing pain.

"It's obvious that there's an assault on pain medication," Pergolizzi
said. "It's unfair to our cancer patients that when they have moderate to
severe cancer pain, it's not going to be an option."

The article said U.S. prescriptions for OxyContin, sold by privately held
Purdue Pharma of Connecticut, have dropped nearly 40 percent since 2010
amid concern that the drug serves as a gateway to addiction and abuse. As
a result, the related Mundipharma companies have started to promote
OxyContin and other opioid drugs in Latin America, Asia, the Middle East,
and Africa, the article found.

The article said governments in some of these countries were ill-equipped
to manage an addiction crisis.

Pergolizzi countered that it is unfair to blame the drugs. The people
prescribing them can prevent abuse by keeping tabs on patients through
commonsense strategies such as the monitoring of prescription databases,
he said. Education also is important, he added.

"You can't just put medications out there and not have an educational
platform behind them," Pergolizzi said.

Citing government records, the Times said that since 2013, Purdue and
other U.S. drugmakers had paid Pergolizzi more than $1 million for
consulting work, speaking engagements, and other services, as well as
travel reimbursements.

At the Brazil lecture in April, Pergolizzi was presented as still
affiliated with Temple. Pergolizzi said he was not aware his credential
with the university had lapsed, and has let Mundipharma know.

A spokesman for Temple said he was affiliated with the university's
medical school from January 2012 through June 2014, doing research in the
pharmacology department.
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