OxyContin and the McDonaldization of chronic pain therapy in the USA

Jordan Hughes, Neelima Kale, Philip Day

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Principles and practices gleaned from successful business enterprises have been used to transform the practice of medicine for decades. McDonaldization is the process in which principles which govern fast-food businesses, are applied to the practice of medicine. When left unchecked, the application of these principles can have devastating consequences, as in the treatment of chronic, nonmalignant pain with OxyContin. At a time when there was growing concern about the under treatment of pain, Purdue Pharma introduced OxyContin, providing an efficient, predictable way of treating chronic pain. The liberal prescription of this drug contributed, and continues to contribute, to the opioid epidemic we see today. So, in confronting this epidemic, we must first understand the process of McDonaldization that has brought us here and then provide safe and effective chronic pain therapies even if they are expensive, time-consuming to deliver, difficult to measure, and unpredictable in their outcomes-all things we've grown to detest in our McDonaldized healthcare system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere000069
JournalFamily Medicine and Community Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Family Practice


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