This controversial company made billions selling an antidote to their own drug

Published on February 4, 2019

Purdue Pharma is under scrutiny for allegedly fueling the opioid crisis.

The Connecticut-based company is known as one of the leading brands for Oxycontin, a pain killer. They are also being accused of selling an anti-addiction drug to it. Court documents state that Purdue found “an attractive market” since some struggle with addiction to it.

Oxycontin is a painkiller which alters how the brain sends signals to the body to alter pain response. Excessive use of the drug may cause serious respiratory problems. It is also the center of what has become an opioid crisis that has caused a lot of problems such as respiratory failure, withdrawal syndrome, and death.

The Sackler family owns Purdue Pharma. They are highly influential as wings were built under their name in top educational institutions as well as museums and medical centers.  Now the family name appears on numerous lawsuits surrounding the Opioid crisis.

Anti-addiction drug

Opioid overdose is an epidemic. It is a highly effective painkiller which explains why it is highly prescribed to patients experiencing serous pain. The problem is that the increase in prescription has led to people relying heavily on the drug.

It was only then that it started to be clear that opioid can be highly addictive. Nearly 48,000 people in the United states died of opioid overdose in 2017 according to health officials.

Numerous lawsuits accuse Purdue Pharma is trying to profit off the opioid crisis. They allegedly had their sales force spark the crisis by telling doctors Oxycontin had a low addiction risk despite statistics showing otherwise.

The Massachusetts attorney general’s office filed a lawsuit focused solely on Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family. It is only one of a thousand others both state and local government to file a lawsuit against the company.

“Massachusetts seeks to publicly vilify Purdue, its executives, employees and directors while unfairly undermining the important work we have taken to address the opioid addiction crisis,” – Purdue Pharma

Purdue lost a legal battle to keep parts of the Massachusetts suit confidential. It also happens to contain potentially damning evidence. The suit claims that Purdue allegedly sought to profit from the opioid crisis caused by OxyContin. It also states that the company considered selling Naloxone to reverse overdoses in 2017.

New accusations have now emerged that the company allegedly invested in Suboxone to serve as an anti-addiction drug. Purdue states they they never went into the Suboxone business and that they were only doing due diligence on buying rights to the anti-addiction drug. Suboxone happens to already be in the market according to them.

Other claims include that the Sacklers paid themselves more than $4 billion from 2007 to 2018. ThAnother is that they worked with McKinsey to increase opioid sales just as authorities started looking into pharmacies that are making illegitimate sales.

Juliet Sorensen, professor at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law states that if isn’t a  “smoking gun.” According to her, it would only be one if there was evidence of a link between the two products and if this was a calculated move to capitalize on a crisis they helped created.

“I’m not exactly seeing a direct connection between the product they have created and the product they were considering acquiring,” Sorensen added

Is money enough?

The opioid crisis is an issue that stems from misuse of the drug. This means that paying people out isn’t enough. Measures have to be taken in order to regulate the distribution of Oxycontin.

Cleveland Judge Dan Aaron Polster oversees the lawsuits filed in federal court. He ordered lawyers to prepare for a settlement that not only monetarily compensates but also offers a solution to the crisis.

“I did a little math,” he said, alluding to the rising number of overdoses. “About 150 Americans are going to die today, just today, while we’re meeting.” – Judge Polster

Polster is handling all cases brought by cities, counties, and Native American tribes in the hopes of reaching a settlement. He seeks to have justice be equally served as far as the settlement goes.

Jaime Aldecoa is a staff writer at Grit Daily. He is an avid traveler, YouTube vlogger, and podcast host. He holds a degree in Mass Communication.

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