The Oxycontin Express

The Oxycontin Express

2009, Drugs  -   114 Comments
Ratings: 7.95/10 from 80 users.

The Oxycontin ExpressIn this Peabody Award-winning edition of Vanguard, correspondent Mariana van Zeller travels to South Florida - the Colombia of prescription drugs - to expose a bustling pill pipeline that stretches from the beaches of Ft.Lauderdale to the rolling hills of Appalachia.

The OxyContin Express features intimate access with pill addicts, prisoners and law enforcement as each struggles with a lethal national epidemic.

Florida has become a pill popper's paradise and the main source of an illicit prescription drug pipeline. Lax laws and little oversight have led to a booming number of storefront pain management clinics that liberally dispense potent narcotics.

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1 year ago

Wow saying ‘don’t use’ to an addict is sheer ignorance. Don’t you think they’ve tried that? It’s a huge problem, I live in FL and used to go to these doctors. The addicts are being jailed when they need help. They get institutionalized, not recovered most cases in jail. Thankfully most of the doctors had to switch to suboxone to help with the withdrawals for these people. This guy Tod was taking 900 mgs of oxy a day, not 80. It’s a disease, btw. Count yourself blessed you aren’t addicted. He passed away in 2012, sadly. Now the mom has lost both her sons & the mother to her grandchild. Yes the doctors are crooked. Most of them now are shut down, a thing of the past, if you aren’t lucky enough to get suboxone or methadone now it’s heroin so, I pray for these people.

Jimbo Adams
5 years ago

Don't blame doctors. Blame drug abusers. As a chronic back ,knee, and shoulder pain bearer, I have used opioids many times. Once I was taking 80mg a day of Oxycodone for 8 months. When I stopped taking them, I was scared of withdrawal. I had a hard time sleeping for a couple days, but felt ok.....not good for a few more days, then never touched again. I use Physical Therapy and legal pot. Works better. Addicts are born, not made. Addicts treat themselves....They OD, or finally seek treatment. There's no excuse for abuse. If you are a smoker, daily drinker, or gambler, don't use and for sure don't abuse's a one way road.

6 years ago

Yes, Canada no longer has oxycontin. We have something called oxyneo... now, that is much harder to misuse and it doesn't work as well either. Also the Canadian govt now requires all doctors to reduce every patient on pain meds to a much lower level. While I do agree with this for the most part, it is hurting those that are in legitimate, serious pain and the only way they are able to work is by taking their pain meds. I don't know what the answer is to this problem...

7 years ago

I have to take pain meds for the last 7 years bc of a cervical injury. Don't get me started about the absolute bull I've had to go through bc of public ignorance, vengeful mothers' displaced anger, legislators' draconian knee-jerk reactions and the black market drug dealers reaping a profit.
When taken as prescribed, opioids are a safe medication. If some ashole decides to take 3x hsi insulin medication, he's going to ER just as fast as someone who took too much opioid meds.
AND, if you look at the coroner's reports on the supposed 'opioid overdoses' almost without exception, there are two major factors:
1) There was either ETOH (alcohol) or Benzo's ( all the -azepams, like valium, klonopin, librium, xanax, etc) or BOTH in addition to the opioids.
2) The deceased was almost NEVER a patient... almost always it is someone who was NOT prescribed the medication, got it from a drug dealer somehow, and decided to wash down a few opiates with alcohol or some other pills... Lights out, retard. Sorry, I have ZERO sympathy for those people.... and I'll tell you why.... THeir need for reckless chemical recreation is the root cause for deaths, AND the draconian measures that follow, which result in two things.
1) Shortages at the pharmacy, and no recourse for legitimate patients... all you will get from the pharmacist is "We are out of stock". Don't bother asking when it'll come in, bc they don't know, and even if they do, they won't tell you, bc they are afraid of being held up. And, you cannot call pharmacies to ask if your LEGAL prescription is in stock at the location, they will not tell you...
you have to go there in person, and after standing in line, AND waiting an extra 5-10 minutes for the pharmacist to go in the back and check in the secured storage, to be told, "We are out of stock"....
back in the car, find another location, drive there, get out, walk in, wait... "We are out of stock"....
back in the car, find another location, drive there, get out, walk in, wait... "We are out of stock"....
back in the car, find another location, drive there, get out, walk in, wait... "We are out of stock"....
back in the car, find another location, drive there, get out, walk in, wait... "We are out of stock"....
back in the car, find another location, drive there, get out, walk in, wait... "We are out of stock"....
...Ad nauseam...
...all this while in growing pain... getting into and out of the vehicle, and the wear and tear on your car, of repeated starts and stops, city traffic, speed bumps, and the growing panic that you will not find your legit meds.
And you must do this MONTHLY, bc you can only get a 28 days supply.
One month, I went to 22 pharmacies in one day, until I finally went back to my Dr and said, 'This piece of paper is useless..." and she had to give me a substitute, that was less effective, shorter acting, and yet, more expensive... and whaddya know... within 3 months, that medication started becoming scarce bc others in the 'chronic pain population' had been switched over as well.
Here's the thing.. .legally you are not allowed to 'hoard' your medication... ie, save the medication that you haven't taken, and you are required' by law' to take the medication exactly as prescribed.... which means that by the evenign of your next 28 day Dr visit, you should not have a single pill left... but if there isn't any at the pharmacy...? Suck it up, Buttercup.
2) Street value goes up, so the drugs dealers are making MORE money from stolen meds.
This all happened in 2012-2013 in South FLorida bc some "journalist" on Vanguard, Mariana Van Zeller did a piece called "The OxyContin Express", which she got a 'Peabody Award'.... If you ask me, she should have been criminally charged... they gave some non-legitimate patient, drug addict, money and a ride to various clinics so he could get scrips, then filmed him while he SMOKED them, in his mom's house, which they later interviewed while she's boo-hoo-hooing about her other son who OD'd... and that was just priceless... The mother sits there saying her son was supposed go to rehab on a Monday, but the preceding Saturday night went to a party and OD'd... What the did you expect?!?
These 'journalists' even took him to a dope hole to buy from a dealer... and then film him smoking pills... it was insane... but she got a peabody award.
The net effect of the 'journalism' piece was a massive reaction from mothers, who went after legislators, who decided to put quotas on pharmacies, which is what caused the I was describing above. And the net effect? Legitimate patients suffered, drug dealers made even more money... great job, idiots.

Mrs. Garcia
7 years ago

The addiction to this medication is real!!! My husband is addicted after getting his hand really hurt. And now I'm desperate because I don't know what to do. He doesn't accept the fact that he's addicted and now he just takes them for pleasure. I know he's not far from death and it's horrible to be alone in this.

7 years ago

I feel awful for those who become addicted to opiates it is a horrible disease to have but having said that there are thousands of treatment centers to help people get better. The people with chronic or acute/chronic pain (pain that is not only chronic but with a type of illness where you get injured or worse on a consistent basis) where are we to go when we have tried everything in the country that is non opiate and it wont work and there is no surgery to fix us. NOWHERE that is where. We are expected to suffer, I not only have an extremely painful disease but it causes a mountain of other diseases and I also have a terminal disease.

I am supposed to suffer for the last few years (if I even last that long) or could the doctors actually read up on this stuff and realize the FDA is making recommendations not laws at this point. They have given them tools to help rule out the majority of addicts that come in to their office such as personality tests, past medical records and the access to look at any prescription they have filled in the entire state to avoid doc shopping. When we finally had the geneticist pinpoint my illness he wrote that the best thing they could do for me was take care of the immense pain I suffer and I had wonderful docs who did just that for over 4 years, I kept every document, every conversation with my docs written down and NEVER had a miscount or bad drug test. Now I have been cut down to 1/4 of the medication I was on and I was doing great on it... doing PT and seeing a shrink that only deals with chronic pain. Now I am bed bound and can not walk.

The truth in the statistics as of 2010-2015 is less than 20% of those going to pain clinics abuse their meds. The other 80% are compliant because they have no other options... and the 300 overdoses quoted per year does not include the people who are desperately in need of these medications that are now committing suicide rather than deal with horrific pain or buy street drugs. That number is much higher as well as those who turn to alcohol for pain relief and end up ruining their lives and their families lives. Why... because we have a small proportion of people who can't handle their medication the rest of us have to pay the high price! Believe me when I say that almost all people with chronic pain would LOVE to give up the narcotics just to have a cure and be themselves again.

Ryan anderson
7 years ago

parents could have done every thing n their will to Hellping their addict child addiction is a disease and until you have been addicted to something stonger than you being addicted to choclate you wont under stand the power of control these addictions have on u

Hugh Phillips
8 years ago

First off,I was hooked on oxycontin for about 8 years and had one hell of a battle. Thanks to methadone(yes it is a wonder drug if used properly)that helped to control my addiction,I have worked steady for years,advanced to management in one job followed by getting a job with very nice benefits. So,there are success stories out there,especially where methadone is concerned,however,like some of the very uninformed statements on here,the stigma stops people from sharing their success stories. Methadone is a very dangerous drug if abused or mixed with other medicine,however,it is the most intensely studied,most regulated and has the most stern laws around. Like ANY medicine,including aspirin,nyquil or any OTC drug,methadone is very safe if used as prescribed but like any medicine can be abused and cause problems. Yes,some abuse it and those give the rest of the people a bad name. However,with all the regulations,bottle checks,random tests etc. those who abuse it do not stay in the various clinics very long these days. Methadone on the streets has declined over the past 10 years. Suboxone is now much more abused than methadone. I wish all those battling addiction would realize that if you use these replacement therapy drugs correctly you can be free to get your life back and become a productive citizen. First off,realize that Methadone was never designed as a detox drug BUT a maintenance medicine,one that allows the patient to live a normal life free of the relapses,ups and downs of serious opiate addiction where less then 3 percent of hardcore opiate addicts ever get totally clean. So realize that methadone is probably something you should not take unless you are going to take it as a diabetic would insulin..daily probably for life. That is where the problem lies,people think taking methadone will allow them to detox but it is just as addictive as the other drugs but its ability to absorb slowly and leave the body slowly allows the patient to avoid withdrawals and live a more normal life making the patient feel the way they did before ever becoming addicted. I am a huge methadone advocate and if you hear the horror stories from people it is those who are sadly misinformed or many who have been kicked out of clinics for not following the rules by failing drug tests,bottle checks etc. Methadone has been around for half a century and its track record is unmatched compared to any other method of dealing with hardcore opiate addiction. Good luck to all of those battling addiction. Yes,the war on drugs is a total joke that just allows the wealthy to become wealthier while allowing them to jail and control a certain segment of the population,the very segments those in control fear. Lot more to this than most realize. Peace people.

9 years ago

sorry to sound stupid - the video is password protected and was wondering what the pw is?

Thank you

9 years ago

Pharmacy = Drug Dealers

Paul Sessions
9 years ago

Vanguard was so dope. Current TV was real life. It showed programming
how to be educational, enlightening and thought provoking. Real
television, real journalism. Nothing like this heartless, artless,
spineless filler fluff bull**** we're fed on cable television in the
United States today. It brashly exposed the many hypocrisies and
injustices in our system, and spurred critical thinking and promoted

It's no wonder the CurrentTV brand was quickly
purchased and dissolved by the Al Jazeera Media Network. Shortly
thereafter being re-constructed and re-branded as "Al Jazeera America", a
CNN-MSNBC-FOX clone. Except AJA boasts a foreign born anchors with
foreign names, giving the illusion of an alternative viewpoint, an
outside source. Meanwhile the Al Jazeera America studios are based on
34th Street, in Midtown Manhattan.

9 years ago

So doctors prescribe the drug 'legally'; patients become addicted; patients - bombarded by the notion that free market/supply & demand capitalism is THE way to go as it fuels the notion of 'the American Dream' - decide to utilise this economic philosophy to make a small profit; and the result is.... All the doctors get off scot-free; the folks who get addicted are considered somehow immoral and worthy of our contempt; and the ones who try to show a bit of initiative (and try to make some money because there is a DEMAND which they SUPPLY to) get arrested, imprisoned for 7 years and separated from their families????
Well then... There is really something rotten in the state of Denmark/Florida/W Virginia, etc..... call it what you will, but if THIS is how America treats its citizens - and if THIS is how American Sheriffs think/act/behave as a result - then I completely and utterly despair of the way your country treats humanity.

First there was SLAVERY and RACISM
And now we have ADDICTS. Well done, America. Land of the free, my arse...

marjo, llc
9 years ago

The fix is coming it will be in the form of a locked dispenser.

Chance Robinson
9 years ago

I hate these people who are bored with their lives so they go out and expose other peoples weeknessess. you sick b....!

10 years ago

Jeez, man the war on drugs continues to intensify. I think this doc is overstating the problem to a certain degree, Oxy is addictive as are all narcotics within a few weeks of being on pain killers one becomes dependant. legitimate pain patients will all become depenadant. Doesnt mean they become like 'Tod' who snorts the stuff and doctor shops.
One thing is true Oxy is definitely more addictive . Its pretty much off the market in Canada, and people who were prescribed the drug for legitimate reasons did become addicted to it, not because it produced a euphoric high, it just didnt work as prescribed
So many of these things promised to be a panacea for pain. The most effective painkiller may the cheapest one: Methadone but true junkies dont like it. Where is the fun in drinking Tang laced with Methadone

10 years ago

Those ' doctors ' need to be dealt with. And i'm not talking about the authorities, because they don't care. Proper community action. No ambiguity,

10 years ago

@ popsnuff. com you are right but keep in mind that pain pills like Oxycontin can also be used responsibly.

10 years ago

i have been through it addicted for 15 yrs its not a disease it a choice allthese people that die from it i dont feel sorry for them they choose to do it so live with the aftermath

Carlos Montano
10 years ago

The Colombia of prescription. I resent that. How about talking about the American addicts?

11 years ago

I believe that addiction, be it narcotic and/or alcohol, is not a 'disease', but rather the result of a series of choices. It is not fair to blame the politicians, Pharma's etc, doing so just emphasizes on a society that is more about blame than self determination, self-respect, and choice. People need to point the finger at themselves. Addiction is ugly, I personally was raised in that environment, but I chose not to live that. I'm not claiming to be better than those that do choose this life, far from it actually, we have a right to live how we chose, but our society must stop with the enabling and blaming.

11 years ago

No one mentions Purdue Pharma, The company making all the Oxy's. They would normally not be allowed to make any product from opium which is illegal in USA. With the help of very expensive and sophisticated equipment, they directly extract the thebaine from the poppy plant, thereby making it legal to distribute as a pain medication, and not as an illegal substance. Oxycontin, and all other oxy-labeled medication is derived from thebaine, the single most potent constituent of opium. Some other constituents include morphine, and codeine. So thank our government, and companies like Purdue Pharma for allowing these legal loop-holes continue to destroy lives. Not only through addiction, but through incarceration. The USA, is not a democratic country anymore. It is a hypocritical swarm of gangsters (pharmaceutical companies, politicians, and police).

11 years ago

todd's a f!@khead.. how could you be so selfish and hurt your mother like that.. Remember this people.. THE BODY IS A TEMPLE!

11 years ago

don't BLAME the drug or the system... everyone has a choice.. drug abuse is the problem! whats so wrong with getting high anyway? i personally haven't tried it but i will if i get the chance. life is about experience.. nothing is worse then REFINED WHITE SUGAR..

11 years ago

I'm not going to completely defend crimson obsession but one thing he said is kind of dead on.
"When you know real pain you dont get addicted."

After 30+ years of recreational substance abuse including pot, alcohol, meth, cocaine, etc, and reducing or eliminating entirely such self destructive behavior, worsening scoliosis and several slipped and herniated discs have caused an intermittent Sciatic nerve pinch, AKA Sciatica. I know it's pretty common so some here will know exactly what I am talking about. On a bad day it's not just painful, you curl up in a little ball on the floor and try not to cry if you're a man. You can't get up and answer a phone or do anything else and I guess that's better because if I could get to a sporting goods store I'd get a 12 gauge and end it.
A friend who gets a generous supply of Oxycontins and Vicoden due to her own chronic pain has been kicking me down some as needed. The VIkes are not the best, they buzz me too much yet don't effectively block the pain. The Oxycontin is effective and doesn't dull me too badly.
Still I can't stand taking them and have only taken about 10 in 4 months time. Cant see getting addicted.

11 years ago

I'm proud to say that I'm free of that evil drug after having been prescribed it for years. I broke my back in 2007 and was immediately prescibed Oxycontin. It was an easy downward spiral, considering I had a drug plan, in which I only paid 0.35 cents for 200 Oxycontin 40mg per month. My doctor loaded me up with drugs, in which over time I needed more and more. In Canada, they used to be very slack about doctors writing these pills. Today, Oxycontin has been removed from the market and stricter laws are in place. I blame the physicians for having the ability to feed the addiction and ruining people's lives. I went cold turkey from Oxycontin, and with the grace of my mind/spirit, I conquered. Not all people are lucky and end up dead. I reflect back to those days, and I wonder how many others have been ruined from this?

11 years ago

"Ask your doctor about X or Y." You hear that in almost every pill commercial. If your asking your doctor isn't he just your dealer?

11 years ago

I find it entirely inappropriate that "Nurofen for Children" is advertised next to a documentary titled "The OxyContin Express" Trying to hook them young, are they? Pharmaceutical Companies, as well as legitimate doctors, are the drug dealers of this decade, as irresponsible as Pablo Escobar was in his day. They need to be held as responsible as any one else.

11 years ago

i knew some ppl that loved pills.

11 years ago

Has anyone ever bothered to ask where all this opium is coming from?

11 years ago

the reporter is hot

11 years ago

This is a complete DEA-party-line hit piece. The fact is that most Chronic Pain patients are under-medicated, and live lives of misery because the DEA puts so much pressure on physicians to under-prescribe. My late wife had to travel to another state to find a pain management specialist who was willing to prescribe enough narcotics to relive her pain enough that she could pursue a diagnosis... and once her condition was understood and treated, she no longer had a need for huge doses of Oxycontin.

I think it is extremely unlikely that pain clinics in FL are really so free to prescribe and dispense. My wife's pain doc was under constant DEA scrutiny, and spent time each week going over his patient files with the feds, to prove he was being vigilant. Other heroic pain management docs have been incarcerated for giving more relief to their patients than the DEA thought was appropriate.

This movie seems to be made by a local TV news reporter, a sensationalist exaggeration. I've had some experience with those people, but that is another story.

Oxycodone-based products are a great relief, a gift of God plus technology, for people who live with chronic pain. The fact that some people abuse them to deal with psychic and emotional pain is not terribly relevant. Those people need other kinds of pain relief.

11 years ago

I had a drinking problem for 12 years and understand addiction on a personal level. Thank CHRIST I never got into opiates and pills...

11 years ago

this is capitalism

11 years ago

Shame these poor folks are fat and ugly and medicating the pain they feel watching the top 1 millionth of 1% on TV strut their stuff. The pain they are in from not being able to have love leads them to a "love drug" that releases the love chemicals of oxytocin.

Michael Goodbaum
11 years ago

Re: RMO, cannabis can be extracted in various forms so you don't need to smoke it. Such as pills, sprays, oils, etc.

11 years ago

Just smoke some chronic and it will ease pain without getting addicted and ****** up. Cannabis should be fully legal, but no it isn't and opiates such as Oxy are... The US makes me sick, long live Holland, where there are coffeeshops and medical dope clinics ;)

John Briody
11 years ago

I unfortunetly am terminly illy ,the pain I would feel witf out my meds ,annd I hahe felt it ,is enough to drive you want to commit suiciside.It nust not have reached your shores yet but the firm tat produces oxycontin has found a more virile and instananis form called oxy...., .it mamaes contin look like a fresh mint, Having been a sustance abuser for 27 years it confounds the doctors and consutents how im still here ,Dont be stupid like I was,I I have died and been resusitated 8 times ,a cat ownly has 9, Dont be as stupid as me,I also have to ta take 56 other types of mmeds just to live anoter day many of them are alsu pain neds so THINK ON.
Slaine lat.

11 years ago

The problem that I have with documentary exposes like this is they can (and have in the past) caused the public-Congress-FDA nexus to make the legitimate prescribing of pain medications almost impossible to rationally obtain because they've over-regulated the patient-doctor relationship to the point of making physicians paranoid with faux-concern about losing their licenses to practice. Similar legislative over-reaction was true going all the way back to Carrie Nation in the early 1900s and Harry "killer weed" Anslinger in the 1930s. In New Jersey, it's just starting to loosen up a little as far as doctors prescribing Schedule II & III drugs for real purposes. Mercifully, these parsimonious prescribing practices aren't true within the VAMC system because veterans advocacy organzations won a Patients' Bill of Rights which includes an article on vets' right to pain relief.

11 years ago

I haven't watched this yet but plan on it. Oxycontin, if used properly and as prescribed for chronic pain is fine. I've had four serious back surgeries and have been on opiates for a very long time and as Jeigh said, a person taking it properly can live perfectly normal lives. I'm one of them. If used wrong or too much, like anything else, of course it's going to wreak havoc with the mind and body (and society). The only time I had a problem with it was when I couldn't get my prescription filled and I had to go cold turkey without it for a day or so. I had a few withdrawal issues but not bad ones. You have to ween yourself off of these drugs if you're on them for pain and let them gradually get out of your system. You can't go cold turkey. But people are taking an opiate that has been around for years and using it in the wrong ways. I was not high once from this drug. Just saying!!

Jeigh Neither
11 years ago

These are Opiates. Used for thousands of years to effectively manage pain. You could take them your entire life, and live just as happy of a life as anyone else, as long as you were able to manage your medication, and not pick up any bad side habits, like chain smoking. There aren't a lot of long term side effects with opiates. Try drinking a bottle of whiskey a day, and see how long you last. When someone abuses something, It's a mental health issue most often, and almost everyone has a little of something. The ignorance on this forum is shocking. The real epidemic is the SNRI's!!! Our soldiers and children are being doped to death (often via suicide) thanks to all of these wonderful anti-depressants and mood stabilizers that not a single quack psychologist in the world, can tell you if, how, or why they work. Over 300 thousand deaths in the US attributed to these drugs last year, my sister was one of them, and for some reason, the evil ole opiate, is an epidemic. BS open your eyes people.

David Whitaker
11 years ago

Locking up these addicts when they need help makes no sense whatsoever. Locking up a child's mother for seven years for having a medical condition puts a lump in my throat. It is so very sad. Where in the hell are the lawmakers in Florida? in cahoot's with the physicians....? I cant believe this is happening down there. Bottom line, opiate addiction is a MEDICAL condition. If someone is vomiting, shitting through a screen with blood pressure out of site, they are physically dependant and do not belong in jail. They should be put in medical detox and then taught coping skills on keeping a drug-free life.

11 years ago

They bust kids for pot and this **** can be legally obtained.

11 years ago

I'm sorry that undercover cop bit with the guy who was pretending he's in pain then busting addicts that are addicted mainly because of a flawed system is sickening. Sad that so many things are becoming heartless rackets, Military to invade the countries with drug ingredients, Medical drug industries peddling the **** then money made from incarcerating addicts. ****** up.

11 years ago

how about cracking down on the real criminals, the manufacturers

11 years ago

Crimson: You are probably very young. You are most certainly very immature. If you pay attention during your short stay on this planet you will come to realize that every last person on earth is addicted to something. That (obviously) includes you, and you are just as weak as all the rest of us. When your particular addiction is taken from you, you will scream and claw the walls just like any junkie.

Unless you use your own weakness to walk a mile in the shoes of the poor outcast who needs help and not judgment, woe unto you. Learn this and learn it well my brother...we are all the same. The only difference between one addiction and another is form, and that is all. Addictions may look different to the untrained eye, but to wisdom's vision all addictions are the same, be it food, gambling, smoking, sex, alcohol, heroin, power, porn, money, religion, etc.. It's the price of being human.

Ease up. It's a long way down, and we need each other.

At your side,


John OtfReilly
11 years ago

@ crimsonobsession is it any wonder that your body has attacked itself by the bile and venom that you bring forth from your thoughts and energy.. I would look into changing your attitude before your need to change others

11 years ago

Have the same problems in Éire , except for the fact that it's the physically and mentally ruinous benzodiazepines ( Valium , Xanax , Dalmane etc) rather than opioids that are being abused . There are respected doctors making a very comfortable living dishing out these poisons .

11 years ago

Don't forget to milk them goats now ya' hear? These hicks, why they continue to survive sucking down these poisonous drugs is just amazing really.. Looking at these fat old prison women just makes me sick to my stomach.

11 years ago

The doctors who give away large volumes of pills like oxy and morphine are the real problem. My aunt abuses them. It hurts our entire family. It's truly awful to see. It makes people turn evil. But it's all legal through a doctor.

11 years ago

just goes to show how addictive these prescription drugs are. when that guy after seen his brother and wife OD. and he still take it not a bother to him.

they should lock all them doctors up