A jail in Lee County, Va., that was built to hold 35 inmates houses 107, the overflow made up mostly of people who have committed crimes to finance their OxyContin addictions, said Sister Elizabeth “Beth” Davies, a substance abuse counselor in Pennington Gap, Va.
Foster care in the Appalachian county is up 300 percent, as parents who become ill or incarcerated because of the powerful painkiller can no longer take care of their children, Davies told the Greenwich (Conn.) Time.
The nun who runs Pennington Gap’s Addiction Education Center is among the central figures in a book published last month about OxyContin and its Stamford-based manufacturer, Purdue Pharma LP. The book, by Barry Meier, is “Pain Killer: A ‘Wonder’ Drug’s Trail of Addiction and Death.”
Purdue Pharma takes issue with the “Pain Killer” contentions that OxyContin has led to a nationwide plague of addiction and related crime and is too easy to abuse. The active ingredient in OxyContin, oxycodone, is derived from opium.
Abusers chew, crush, snort or inject the time-release drug to get a heroin-like high. The company says in warning labels on its product that those actions can be fatal.
“Our country faces two serious public health issues: the epidemic of pain that is under-treated or not treated at all and the growing problem of prescription drug abuse,” the company said in a statement.
“We believe Mr. Meier’s book is inaccurate and unbalanced on both issues. The medical needs of innocent people who are suffering should not be compromised by the illegal misconduct of prescription drug abusers,” Purdue Pharma said.