How Pharma Companies Pushed Drugs They Knew Were Addictive and Dangerous

How Pharma Corporations Pushed Medicine They Knew Had been Addictive and Harmful


Purdue Pharma building closeup

Picture by GREG PATTON/


When the identical unhealthy factor occurs to hundreds of thousands of individuals over a comparatively quick interval, it is smart to analyze, to search for the supply of that disaster, and to treatment it. So when hundreds of thousands of Individuals turned hooked on prescription opioid ache relievers they had been informed had been protected to devour, it made sense to analyze.

Whereas many pharmaceutical firms had a hand within the creation of the opioid epidemic, public well being specialists reminiscent of Andrew Kolodny, co-director of the Opioid Coverage Analysis Collaborative at Brandeis College, say that Purdue Prescription drugs bears the lion’s share of the blame in at this time’s opioid disaster.

And whereas the Sackler household that owns Purdue Prescription drugs has used its immense wealth to barter authorized settlements that profit the household, it’s essential to do not forget that Purdue Pharma already pled responsible to federal felonies on a number of events, felonies that furnished ample proof Purdue/the Sacklers are culpable in America’s most deadly habit disaster.

Purdue Pharma Representatives Lied to Medical Practitioners and Sufferers In regards to the Addictive Nature of OxyContin

Doctors meeting
Picture by Drazen Zigic/

Maybe Purdue’s first crime was the lies it informed to medical practitioners and most people concerning the addictive nature of OxyContin and different opioid ache aid merchandise. “Drug customers discovered the way to merely crush the controlled-release pill and swallow, inject or inhale the excessive efficiency opioid for an intense morphinelike excessive. … Purdue’s personal testing in 1995 had demonstrated that 68% of the oxycodone could possibly be extracted from an OxyContin pill when crushed.” That’s a direct quote from researcher Artwork Van Lee, MD, in a paper describing the timeline of Purdue’s efforts to advertise and market OxyContin beneath false pretenses that it was protected and nonaddictive.

To place it merely, Purdue Prescription drugs knew its OxyContin product was addictive and that crushing the drugs allowed huge quantities of opioids to be consumed in a brief time period, but it marketed the drug as if it was protected and nonaddictive. Actually, Purdue representatives went as far as to misinform the general public, utilizing deceptive research to implement this lie.

In keeping with Dr. Lee’s analysis, Purdue reps informed medical doctors and affected person curiosity teams that the chance of habit to OxyContin was “lower than one %.” The representatives cited research to again this up, but the research they cited had been of sufferers taking opioid ache relievers for acute, short-term ache signs. Conversely, OxyContin was being manufactured and marketed to deal with persistent ache signs, a wholly totally different medical demographic.

Talking of research, Dr. Lee additionally factors out that not solely did Purdue reps lie and misrepresent the info by citing non sequitur research, however some research had been obtainable on the time that confirmed appreciable habit threat in taking opioid ache relievers, with some research revealing that as many as 45% of ache sufferers taking opioid painkillers will develop into hooked on these painkillers. After all, these research had been nowhere to be present in Purdue’s marketing campaign to advertise its new drug.

In a felony effort to persuade the medical and affected person communities that OxyContin was nonaddictive, Purdue salespersons and advertising and marketing specialists misrepresented the info, lined up the info, withheld the info, or just lied concerning the dangerously addictive nature of OxyContin. And on Could tenth, 2007, Purdue and three of its firm executives pled responsible to felony prices relating to misbranding OxyContin to the general public sector and the medical communities that prescribe it.

Purdue Pharma Knowingly Equipped Illicit Tablet Mills and Incentivized Medical doctors to Prescribe OxyContin by Providing Them Kickbacks

Doctors meeting

Picture by Jovanmandic/


In November 2020, the United States Division of Justice launched a press launch asserting the result of ongoing litigation towards Purdue Prescription drugs. The litigation was directed at Purdue’s position in incentivizing medical doctors and medical practitioners to prescribe opioid ache relievers to sufferers.

The press launch introduced that Purdue had simply pled responsible in federal court docket to each conspiracies to defraud america and efforts to violate the anti-kickback statute. From Rachael A. Honig, First Assistant U.S. Legal professional for the District of New Jersey, “Purdue admitted that it marketed and bought its harmful opioid merchandise to healthcare suppliers, regardless that it had purpose to imagine these suppliers had been diverting them to abusers.” Mrs. Honig went on to say, “The corporate lied to the Drug Enforcement Administration about steps it had taken to forestall such diversion, fraudulently rising the quantity of its merchandise it was permitted to promote. Purdue additionally paid kickbacks to suppliers to encourage them to prescribe much more of its merchandise.”

The responsible plea revealed that from Could 2007 via no less than March 2017, Purdue Pharma, led by the Sackler household, conspired to defraud america by impeding the lawful operate of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Merely, Purdue had been reporting to the DEA on its “efficient anti-drug diversion marketing campaign” when in precise reality, Purdue was knowingly advertising and marketing and promoting its medication to greater than 100 felony “well being care suppliers” that had been diverting opioids to addicts and drug traffickers.

However that’s only the start. Not solely was Purdue supplying clandestine drug operations throughout the nation with provides of OxyContin, however Purdue additionally admitted that from 2009 to 2017, Purdue paid particular person medical doctors and medical corporations reminiscent of Apply Fusion Inc. kickbacks if the medical doctors and medical corporations prescribed OxyContin to sufferers and facilitated referrals, suggestions, and preparations of extra OxyContin, Butrans, and Hysingla for sufferers.

Quick Ahead to 2021; The Sackler Household Continues to Deny Duty

Distinction the above crimes (incentivizing medical doctors to prescribe opioids, knowingly sending drugs to unlawful tablet mill institutions, and mendacity to the general public concerning the dangerous nature of OxyContin) towards the latest authorized proceedings, during which the Sackler household denied ANY duty in creating the opioid epidemic.

That’s huge speak coming from the house owners of an organization that already pled responsible to a number of felony prices relating to the dangerous nature of OxyContin and the corporate’s felony enterprise practices in trying to maximise income from a drug they knew was dangerous.

And but, the Sackler household nonetheless denies duty. In testimony on August 18, 2021, Richard Sackler flatly refused duty for Sackler/Purdue’s culpability for the opioid epidemic. Following is an excerpted transcript from that testimony:

Richard Sackler was requested a direct query. “Do you’ve gotten any duty for the opioid disaster in america?”

“No,” Mr. Sackler replied.

“Does the Sackler household have any duty for the opioid disaster in america?”

“No,” Mr. Sackler replied.

“Does Purdue Pharma have any duty for the opioid disaster in america?”

“No,” Mr. Sackler replied.

“You didn’t assume it was essential in your position as a chair or president of an opioid firm to find out how many individuals had died because of the usage of that (OxyContin) product?”

“To the most effective of my data, that knowledge is just not obtainable,” Mr. Sackler replied.

The federal felonies and prior responsible pleadings are the smoking gun within the Purdue/Sackler position in creating what could also be this nation’s worst habit disaster. But to today, the corporate’s founders nonetheless deny any duty for the disaster they helped create.

Chapter Court docket and an Escape from Culpability

Justice court building

As of proper now, it appears as if the Sackler household will principally get away with their crimes, a real miscarriage of justice. Why? As a result of the response to the above-listed responsible verdicts was to launch Purdue out of business court docket, which resulted in September’s $4.5 billion authorized settlement and the everlasting, infinite immunity for Sackler members of the family and about 1,000 workers.

Satirically, Purdue and the Sacklers positioned themselves to learn from the very responsible verdicts they pled to in earlier lawsuits.

It could appear that the Sacklers’ capacity to carry the $4.5 billion settlement above the heads of the plaintiffs, not agreeing to a settlement till immunity was in place for themselves and their colleagues, is what in the end allowed the household and their high workers to flee culpability in a collection of felony acts which have been ongoing since 1995. Not solely is that this a gross miscarriage of justice, however it’s additionally an indictment of the immense energy that rich mega-corporations can accumulate and their capacity to make use of that wealth to defend them from taking duty, even for crimes they already admitted to beforehand.

Purdue might have been one of many first pharma giants taken to court docket for its position within the opioid epidemic. It received’t be the final. And so long as we enable for a system during which excessive wealth can act as a defend to justice, firms will proceed to get away with crimes that have an effect on hundreds of thousands of Individuals and their households.

Dependancy Therapy: The Significance of Serving to These Nonetheless Harmed by OxyContin

interview with an addict

The opioid epidemic continues to be ongoing at this time. Thousands and thousands of Individuals are hooked on opioids, and whereas a lot of the disaster has shifted to extraordinarily potent and probably deadly artificial opioids, 1000’s of Individuals nonetheless develop into hooked on pharmaceutical opioid ache relievers every year. If this has occurred to you or somebody you care about, please search assist at a drug and alcohol therapy middle as quickly as potential.

Holding pharma corporations absolutely accountable might take a lifetime. However getting assist for an habit can, and will, occur at this time.


Reviewed by Claire Pinelli, ICAADC, CCS, LADC, RAS, MCAP


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