Purdue Pharma LP, the pharmaceutical company responsible for developing the highly addictive painkiller drug OxyContin (oxycodone), is so desperate to retain exclusivity on the soon-to-expire patent rights for its drug that it has decided to conduct clinical trials with OxyContin on young children. According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), more than 150 children between the ages of six and 16 will participate in the multi-site trial, which will be used solely to extend OxyContin’s exclusive patent by a mere six months.
Set to expire in April 2013, the patent rights for OxyContin have been a financial goldmine for Purdue, as the drug just last year generated more than $2.8 billion in sales. And with numerous other drug companies chomping at the bit to begin manufacturing their own generic versions of OxyContin, which would obviously be sold for far less than the original formula, Purdue is feverishly trying to protect its cash cow by whatever means necessary.
In this case, that means taking advantage of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s pediatric testing incentive for drugs, which offers six-month patent extensions to drug companies who conduct clinical trial on children after those drugs have been approved. The FDA, in other words, is actually encouraging drug companies to test oftentimes dangerous and highly addictive drugs on children by dangling a patent extension carrot in front of their noses.