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Fri Jun 8, 2018, 07:33 PM

Big Pharma's complicit and avoidable role in the man-made opioid epidemic

When the boss calls you into his office, it’s always a big deal. And so it was in the fall of 2001, when I was a 30-year-old assistant attorney general in the economic crime division. The boss — Attorney General Bob Butterworth — handed me a magazine article about people with sports and workplace injuries who became addicted to a new painkiller, OxyContin, manufactured by Purdue Pharma. Butterworth was concerned that Purdue Pharma was marketing OxyContin deceptively and too aggressively, leading to overprescribing, addiction and, in many cases, death.

Today, with numerous states and local jurisdictions suing Purdue Pharma and others in the pharmaceutical industry for their role in creating America’s opioid epidemic, it’s important to remember how we got here.

OxyContin, which is essentially a higher dose of the powerful opioid oxycodone with a time-release coating, first hit the U.S. market in 1996. Just five years later, sales exceeded a billion dollars a year, as OxyContin became the most frequently prescribed brand-name narcotic in the United States for treating moderate to severe pain.

Whether OxyContin was superior to its competition in pain relief was questionable. What was more uncertain was its unprecedented marketing campaign for a powerful schedule II narcotic. Doctors were offered all-expenses-paid trips to pain management seminars at golfing resorts; a “speakers bureau” paid physicians to spread the word about the benefits of the drug; and swag such as OxyContin-branded stuffed animals, fishing hats, coffee mugs (with the slogan “The One to Start With”), Swiss Army knives and music CDs featuring a cover photo of two dancing seniors above the words, “Swing in the Right Direction with OxyContin.”

When Purdue Pharma in 2001 learned that we began investigating its marketing practices, the company hired a lobbyist who had run Butterworth’s successful campaign for Attorney General and later served as his chief of staff.

The Purdue Pharma lobbyist acknowledged the rising number of OxyContin addicts who overcame the time-release coating by crushing the pills or dissolving them in liquid, but denied the company’s responsibility.

Known for his integrity and soft-spoken leadership, Butterworth insisted we press on with the investigation. In 2002, I was elected to the state Senate and left the Attorney General’s office.

Months later, a settlement was reached with Purdue Pharma that required the company to pay Florida millions to establish a much-needed Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) to reduce “doctor shopping” and over-utilization of the drug by tracking the prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances. Among other things, the company also agreed to change its marketing practices and pulled its egregiously potent 160 mg pill from the U.S. market.


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Reply Big Pharma's complicit and avoidable role in the man-made opioid epidemic (Original post)
Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin Jun 2018 OP
Uncle Joe Jun 2018 #1
The Polack MSgt Jun 2018 #2
LuckyLib Jun 2018 #3

Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Fri Jun 8, 2018, 08:11 PM

1. Kicked and recommended.

Thanks for the thread Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin

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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Fri Jun 8, 2018, 10:49 PM

3. 160 mg? Good grief -- it's no wonder folks got hooked.

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