The drugmaker Purdue Pharma launched OxyContin two decades ago with a bold marketing claim: One dose relieves pain for 12 hours...

On the strength of that promise, OxyContin became America’s bestselling painkiller, and Purdue reaped $31 billion in revenue.

But OxyContin’s stunning success masked a fundamental problem: The drug wears off hours early in many people...OxyContin is a chemical cousin of heroin, and when it doesn’t last, patients can experience excruciating symptoms of withdrawal, including an intense craving for the drug.

The problem offers new insight into why so many people have become addicted to OxyContin, one of the most abused pharmaceuticals in U.S. history...

The [Los Angeles] Times investigation, based on thousands of pages of confidential Purdue documents and other records, found that:

-- Purdue has known about the problem for decades...

-- The company has held fast to the claim of 12-hour relief, in part to protect its revenue...


First part of an investigative series.

[vices, the biz]