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Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, has received a patent designed to treat opioid addiction. Critics of the company accused it of deceptive marketing practices over the years, with numerous lawsuits detailing how drug reps for the company used to be trained to claim to doctors that OxyContin was less addictive than other opiates when there was no research to back up this false claim.

The company has released 3.4 million in doses to non-profits and first responders to ensure this medicine gets to patients that could be saved from overdosing on opiates. Part of the criticism of Purdue Pharma is that the price of Buprenorphine has surged since they took control of the patent. The price on the open market is now $125 for 2 doses, at times the company reports it discounts the product to $75 for 2 doses. In some cases free doses are given for charity care. In 2013, over 170,000 people have died from overdose opiate painkiller deaths. That number represents more than three times the number of fatalities from the Vietnam War.

The patent, first reported by The Financial Times, is for a new and faster-acting form of buprenorphine.

Buprenorphine controls drug cravings and is often given as a substitute to people hooked on heroin or opiate prescription painkillers, such as OxyContin. Buprenorphine is currently prescribed in tablets or fast-dissolving strips. The patent is for a “wafer” of buprenorphine that would dissolve in just a few seconds, as a patent attorney can explain.

“While opioids have always been known to be useful in pain treatment, they also display an addictive potential,” the patent states. “Thus, if opioids are taken by healthy human subjects with a drug-seeking behaviour they may lead to psychological as well as physical dependence.” If you or a loved one has been harmed in Medical Malpractice by the negligent use of opiates, call an attorney.