OxyContin maker to reveal information about doctors

CARSON CITY — The president of the pharmaceutical company that makes the powerful pain management drug OxyContin said he is willing to share information about the prescribing practices of certain Nevada physicians with the Nevada Board of Medical Examiners.

In a letter dated Wednesday and sent to state Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, Purdue Pharma President and Chief Executive Officer John Stewart said the company is willing to share its information at the board’s earliest convenience.

The company is willing to provide “detailed information about the source of the information and data that we analyzed, our analytical processes, findings and subsequent actions,” Stewart said.

He said the information about the company’s Abuse & Diversion Detection program and the names of prescribers identified through the program “have been and continue to be available to appropriate law enforcement and regulatory authorities upon request.”

Stewart said a recent story published in the Los Angeles Times suggesting that the information has been withheld from proper authorities is not true.

Segerblom sent a letter to Stewart last week asking the company to turn over information to state officials about any Nevada physicians suspected of overprescribing the pain medication.

“I have been concerned for some time about the mounting death toll related to certain addictive drugs, such as OxyContin,” Segerblom said in his letter.

He based his request on the Times article. In its report, the newspaper said the company has a database of 1,800 doctors who showed signs of dangerous prescribing, yet only 154 cases had been referred to law enforcement or medical regulators since 2002.

Douglas Cooper, executive director of the state medical board, said last week he would need not only the names of the physicians but the information that raised red flags about them before he could investigate.

If the information was provided and was the basis for a complaint, the board would open an investigation and take appropriate action, he said.

Cooper was in meetings Thursday and not immediately available to comment on how the board will proceed as a result of Stewart’s letter, which was sent to the Nevada medical board as well.

Segerblom said he does not know if there are any Nevada doctors in the company’s database, but it seems likely if there are 1,800 doctors on the list nationwide.

The medical board needs to get with the company and determine if it has information the board does not already know about, he said. “If the board does have the same information, then the question is have they done anything about it,” Segerblom said.

OxyContin is a trade name for the drug oxycodone hydrochloride, prescribed to treat chronic pain.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Follow him on Twitter @seanw801.