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OxyContin, prescription opioid abuse and economic medicalization

Poitras, Geoffrey (2012): OxyContin, prescription opioid abuse and economic medicalization. Published in: Medicolegal and Bioethics , Vol. 2, (2012): pp. 31-43.

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Abstract

This paper examines the relevance of OxyContin diversion and abuse to the economic medicalization of substance abuse and addiction. Given that medicalization is the general social process of nonmedical problems being transformed into medical problems, economic medicalization occurs where the motivation for the transformation is commercial profitability or, in a corporate context, achieving the objective of shareholder wealth maximization. After considering potential conflicts between medical ethics and business ethics, practical aspects of economic medicalization are detailed by considering the methods used to market OxyContin by Purdue Pharma. Illegal practices are identified and contrasted with legal practices that facilitated economic medicalization. Implications of medicalization research for designing public heath solutions to the epidemic of prescription opioid abuse are discussed.

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