The maker of OxyContin has a database of doctors it suspects may be prescribing its pills to addicts and dealers—but it isn't sharing that info with cops, reports the LA Times. Purdue Pharma says it has alerted authorities to 154 suspicious prescribers, but that's only about 8% of the more than 1,800 names in its records. Purdue's attorney says the database is for its own sales representatives, and policing doctors is not its problem. In the past, Purdue has promoted the idea that the growing problem of painkiller addiction and abuse is the result of pharmacy robberies and teens taking pills from their home medicine cabinet, says the Times.
But the company changed its tune when its patent was set to expire this year, arguing that its product was so liable to be abused by prescribers, generic drug makers should not be allowed to make it. Purdue revealed a study finding that when it introduced its tamper-resistant formula to the market, prescriptions of a rival product that could still be crushed and snorted rose 400%. A former White House drug policy adviser says Purdue only really started alerting authorities to the names in its database once it moved to the tamper-proof version and it didn't want more addictive generics cutting into its margins. "Those doctors are a gold mine for Purdue Pharma," he says. "And the whole time they're taking the money, knowing that something is wrong, and not telling anyone until it gives them a market advantage to do so." (Read more Purdue Pharma stories.)