Did Wu take oxycodone or ibuprofen?

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

On Tuesday, the Oregonian reported that Congressman David Wu admitted to taking a un-prescribed painkillers from a donor, and claimed that he'd left his own prescription painkiller back in D.C.

"The donor offered me an alternative painkiller, and I took two tablets. This was the only time that this has ever happened," Wu wrote. "I recognize that my action showed poor judgment at the time, and I sincerely regret having put my staff in a difficult position."

The Oregonian also reported that, according to a campaign staffer, the painkiller was oxycodone:

A campaign staffer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity as the person still works in politics, confirmed that Wu, 55, had taken oxycodone from the donor.

But on Wednesday, in their print edition, Willamette Week cited the donor by name - and he claims it was ibuprofen:

On Tuesday, Oct. 26, Wu had dinner at Aquariva on the South Waterfront with a donor named Paul O’Brien, an author and speaker on spiritual topics who contributed the federal maximum of $4,800 to Wu in 2010.

“He was in fundraising mode, and the guy was dying of pain in his neck from being on the phone so much,” O’Brien says. “He was on edge because the election was a week away.”

O’Brien says he gave Wu tablets of ibuprofen to ease Wu’s pain, but that apparently upset a female aide accompanying the congressman. O’Brien recalls the exchange between Wu and the staffer was a “conflict.”

“I gave him a couple of ibuprofen and she was so weird,” O’Brien says. “She was trying to control him in a very strange way. I didn’t understand that.... But no, no, nothing untoward happened.”

So, which was it? Ibuprofen or Oxycodone?

It's worth noting that Congressman Wu's statement simply refers to an "alternative painkiller". And certainly, ibuprofen comes in prescription strength form.

But there's a substantial difference between oxycodone and ibuprofen. In a comment here at BlueOregon, Robert J. Harris (a former Washington County deputy D.A. and attorney whose current practice includes criminal law) noted:

Unlawful possession of controlled Substances. Oxycodon/Oxycontin is a schedule II drug, making it a class C Felony. Assuming he had no valid prescription for the Oxy. The donor can be prosecuted for delivery of the drug, a Class B Felony.

At some level, it doesn't matter. Taking someone else's prescription pills is a bad idea. But on another level, it does matter - as oxycodone requires a deeper level of bad judgment than does ibuprofen. (And may help explain why campaign staff felt the need to conduct an intervention when Wu was at a downtown Portland pharmacy -- though, as I previously posted, even a single oxycodone incident doesn't seem to explain that entirely.)

Obviously, there's a discrepancy here in the reporting -- and one that needs to get cleared up so that voters can make their judgments about Congressman Wu's judgment.

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    The drumbeat continues......

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    I believe taking multiple tablets of over-the-counter Advil would be the same as getting Rx Ibuprofen. So, if it was Ibu, there would be no controversy as far as I'm concerned.

    Oxycodone, on the other hand, is a controlled drug, of course.

    Just seems to me that the pressure of his family situation and of electoral politics is getting to Wu, anyway. If I were him I'd quit and go on a long vacay with his kids (when school's out).

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    I'm still trying to figure out why Congressman Wu doesn't have a primary care physician in his district (or nearby) who could have quickly and easily prescribed an appropriate painkiller.

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    Oxy codone is the generic of Vicodin mixed with acetamenophen. It IS NOT Oxycontin, the much stronger pain killer made famous by Rush Limbaugh. It most certainly is not anywhere near the prescription strength Motrin or Ibuprophen.

    Wu has a problem, we should not be arm chair quarterbacking the situation.

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      Hey Kurt, I'm not sure that's accurate. According to Wikipedia:

      Oxycodone is an opioid analgesic medication synthesized from opium-derived thebaine. It was developed in 1916 in Germany, as one of several new semi-synthetic opioids in an attempt to improve on the existing opioids: morphine, diacetylmorphine (heroin), and codeine.[3] Oxycodone oral medications are generally prescribed for the relief of moderate to severe pain. Low dosages have also been prescribed for temporary relief of diarrhea. Currently it is formulated as single ingredient products or compounded products. Some common examples of compounding are oxycodone with acetaminophen/paracetamol or NSAIDs such as ibuprofen. The formulations are available as generics but are also made under various brand names. OxyContin is Purdue Pharma's brand for time-release single-ingredient oxycodone oral medication. The manufacturing rights to time-released generic oxycodone are under dispute.

      And Vicodin:

      The drug combination hydrocodone/paracetamol is an analgesic product used to relieve moderate to severe pain.[1] It is usually found in tablet form, produced and marketed under the trade names Vicodin, Vicodin ES, Vicodin HP, Anexsia, Anolor DH5, Bancap HC, Zydone, Dolacet, Lorcet, Lortab, and Norco, as well as generic brands. Hydrocodone also comes in a combination with ibuprofen, available under the trade name Vicoprofen.

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    All I know is after going down on my motorcycle to avoid a cager I ended up with about 4 months worth of prescription pain killers. Vicodin was prescribed and I was given the 'generic' Oxycodone.

    Ditto my oldest son after an unfortunate longboarding incidnet. My youngest son had it after a tib/fib fracture. But then I could have been under the wrong impression. Either way, it is not Oxycontin, a very powerful painkiller.

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      I am quite obviously not a pharmacist, and Wikipedia can contain errors, but apparently oxycontin is merely a brand name for a particular blend of oxycodone - and vicodin is a brand name for hydrocodone.

      Perhaps a medical professional can verify this for us. .

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    Here's info from the National Institute of Health website:





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