FDA Ban on Generic OxyContin a “Small Win” for WC?

Commentary, Medicare Set-Aside Blog, Rx/Pharmacy on May 2, 2013 | Posted by Jennifer Jordan, JD, MSCC

While a huge win for Purdue Pharma, I’m not seeing the small WC win reported in Risk & Insurance this week regarding the FDA’s refusal to approve generic versions of OxyContin. Much like the original version of OxyContin approved in 1995, these generics could be easily crushed into a powder, making it more susceptible to abusive uses such as inhalation or injection; hence, why the FDA rejected them. In contrast, Purdue introduced a formulation in 2010 that is less prone to tampering and turns the pill into a jelly-like mass when crushed. By rejecting generic applications, all the FDA accomplished is keeping prices high for legitimate prescriptions and street value lower as it will not completely eliminate those without prescriptions from continuing to properly ingest illegally gained Oxy for its regularly provided high. Physicians will continue to prescribe the brand name version, employers/insurers will continue to pay exorbitant amounts of money and workers’ compensation claimants with addictive personalities will continue to become addicted, so nothing has changed for our purposes. We will continue to see abusively excessive amounts of OxyContin improperly prescribed for long term chronic pain uses at the currently high brand name price and, if we’re really lucky, maybe even see a price increase due to the prolonged postponement of competition. Did I mention that the FDA rejection came on the same day as Purdue’s patent was set to expire? 

So MSA allocators – continue to project lifetime supplies of OxyContin at the brand name AWP while hiding behind a shield of federal bureaucracy. That line item is not our fault.