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posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday September 11 2018, @01:50PM   Printer-friendly
from the create-a-need-and-fill-it dept.

Man who made billions from OxyContin is pushing drug to wean addicts off opioids

Following hundreds of lawsuits over the years against pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma, Colorado's attorney general is suing the OxyContin creator for its "significant role in causing the opioid epidemic." The lawsuit claims Purdue Pharma L.P. and Purdue Pharma Inc. deluded doctors and patients in Colorado about the potential for addiction with prescription opioids and continued to push the drugs. And it comes amid news that the company's former chairman and president, Richard Sackler, has patented a new drug to help wean addicts from opioids.

[...] In federal court in 2007, three top current and former employees for Purdue pleaded guilty to criminal charges, admitting that they had falsely led doctors and their patients to believe that OxyContin was less likely to be abused than other drugs in its class, according to The New York Times. Then earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal reported that Purdue planned to stop promoting the drug.

Now, it seems, a new business venture is only adding to the outcry. The Financial Times reported that Sackler, whose family owns Purdue Pharma, a multibillion-dollar company, patented a new drug earlier this year that is a form of buprenorphine, a mild opioid that is used to ease withdrawal symptoms. However, some are expressing outrage that the Sacklers, who have in essence profited from opioid addictions, may soon be profiting from the antidote. "It's reprehensible what Purdue Pharma has done to our public health," Luke Nasta, director of Camelot, a New York-based treatment center for drug and alcohol addiction, told the Financial Times. He told the newspaper that the Sackler family "shouldn't be allowed to peddle any more synthetic opiates - and that includes opioid substitutes."

Financial Times also reported that the Sackler family owns Rhodes Pharma, "a little-known Rhode Island-based drugmaker that is among the largest producers of off-patent generic opioids in the U.S."

Also at The Independent.

Previously: City of Everett, Washington Sues OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma
OxyContin's 12-Hour Problem
South Carolina Sues OxyContin Maker Purdue
Purdue Pharma to Cut Sales Force, Stop Marketing Opioids to Doctors
Tens or Hundreds of Billions of Dollars Needed to Combat Opioid Crisis? (Massachusetts Attorney General sues Sackler family)

Original Submission

Related Stories

City of Everett, Washington Sues OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma 23 comments

An American city is suing the maker of OxyContin for its alleged role in fueling the national opioid epidemic:

After spending millions to combat the opioid epidemic ravaging its citizens, the working-class city of Everett, Washington, is taking the maker of opioid painkiller OxyContin to federal court. The city claims that the drug maker, Purdue Pharma, knowingly sold to black markets out of pure greed, enabling the devastating epidemic hitting Everett and the rest of the country.

According to the lawsuit (PDF) filed in federal court in Seattle, Everett accuses Purdue Pharma of "knowingly, recklessly, and/or negligently supplying OxyContin to obviously suspicious physicians and pharmacies and enabling the illegal diversion of OxyContin into the black market, including to drug rings, pill mills, and other dealers for dispersal of the highly addictive pills in Everett." Purdue's goal, Everett alleges, was to "generate enormous profits" at the expense of the people of Everett. [...] "Our community has been significantly damaged, and we need to be made whole," Everett's mayor, Ray Stephanson, told ABC News.

[...] In a statement, Purdue disputed Everett's claims, saying that it did notify the DEA and acted responsibly. "We look forward to presenting the facts in court," the company said. Purdue also said that its opioids now account for less than two percent of US opioid prescriptions.

Original Submission

OxyContin's 12-Hour Problem 39 comments

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Patients would no longer have to wake up in the middle of the night to take their pills, Purdue told doctors. One OxyContin tablet in the morning and one before bed would provide "smooth and sustained pain control all day and all night."

When Purdue unveiled OxyContin in 1996, it touted 12-hour duration.

On the strength of that promise, OxyContin became America's bestselling painkiller, and Purdue reaped $31 billion in revenue.

But OxyContin's stunning success masked a fundamental problem: The drug wears off hours early in many people, a Los Angeles Times investigation found. OxyContin is a chemical cousin of heroin, and when it doesn't last, patients can experience excruciating symptoms of withdrawal, including an intense craving for the drug.

The problem offers new insight into why so many people have become addicted to OxyContin, one of the most abused pharmaceuticals in U.S. history.

Over the last 20 years, more than 7 million Americans have abused OxyContin, according to the federal government's National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The drug is widely blamed for setting off the nation's prescription opioid epidemic, which has claimed more than 190,000 lives from overdoses involving OxyContin and other painkillers since 1999.

The internal Purdue documents reviewed by The Times come from court cases and government investigations and include many records sealed by the courts. They span three decades, from the conception of OxyContin in the mid-1980s to 2011, and include emails, memos, meeting minutes and sales reports, as well as sworn testimony by executives, sales reps and other employees.

The documents provide a detailed picture of the development and marketing of OxyContin, how Purdue executives responded to complaints that its effects wear off early, and their fears about the financial impact of any departure from 12-hour dosing.

South Carolina Sues OxyContin Maker Purdue 11 comments

South Carolina has become the sixth U.S. state to sue opioid makers over their marketing practices and contribution to the opioid epidemic:

The lawsuit by South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, filed in Richland County Court of Common Pleas in Columbia, accuses the company of the unfair and deceptive marketing of opioid painkillers. Wilson claimed Purdue has told doctors that patients who receive prescriptions for opioids generally will not become addicted and those who appeared to be were only "pseudoaddicted" and needed more of the drugs.

[...] Since a 2007 settlement with South Carolina, Purdue has continued to downplay the addictiveness of its opioid products and overstated the benefits compared to other pain management treatments, according to the lawsuit. "While there is a time and place for patients to receive opioids, Purdue prevented doctors and patients from receiving complete and accurate information about opioids in order to make informed choices about their treatment options," Wilson said in a statement.

Stamford, Connecticut-based Purdue denied the allegations and said it shares the concerns of South Carolina officials about the crisis and is committed to finding solutions. Purdue and other drugmakers have been sued over opioid products by Oklahoma, Mississippi, Ohio, Missouri and New Hampshire as well as cities and counties in California, Illinois, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee and New York.

Is this Big Pharma's Tobacco Moment?

Original Submission

Purdue Pharma to Cut Sales Force, Stop Marketing Opioids to Doctors 46 comments

Pain Pill Giant Purdue to Stop Promotion of Opioids to Doctors

Pain-pill giant Purdue Pharma LP will stop promoting its opioid drugs to doctors, a retreat after years of criticism that the company's aggressive sales efforts helped lay the foundation of the U.S. addiction crisis.

The company told employees this week that it would cut its sales force by more than half, to 200 workers. It plans to send a letter Monday to doctors saying that its salespeople will no longer come to their clinics to talk about the company's pain products.

"We have restructured and significantly reduced our commercial operation and will no longer be promoting opioids to prescribers," the company said in a statement. Instead, any questions doctors have will be directed to the Stamford, Connecticut-based company's medical affairs department.

OxyContin, approved in 1995, is the closely held company's biggest-selling drug, though sales of the pain pill have declined in recent years amid competition from generics. It generated $1.8 billion in 2017, down from $2.8 billion five years earlier, according to data compiled by Symphony Health Solutions. It also sells the painkiller Hysingla.


Also at Reuters, USA Today, The Verge, and CNN.

Previously: City of Everett, Washington Sues OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma
OxyContin's 12-Hour Problem
South Carolina Sues OxyContin Maker Purdue

Related: Opioid Crisis Partly Blamed on a 1980 Letter to the New England Journal of Medicine
President Trump Declares the Opioid Crisis a National Emergency
Study Finds Stark Increase in Opioid-Related Admissions, Deaths in Nation's ICUs
CVS Limits Opioid Prescriptions
Congress Reacts to Reports that a 2016 Law Hindered DEA's Ability to go after Opioid Distributors
Opioid Crisis Official; Insys Therapeutics Billionaire Founder Charged; Walgreens Stocks Narcan

Original Submission

Tens or Hundreds of Billions of Dollars Needed to Combat Opioid Crisis? 95 comments

US needs to invest 'tens of billions or hundreds of billions' to fight opioid epidemic

The goal of an opioid is to reduce pain, but the addictive drugs are creating pain for millions of families suffering through the crisis. Deaths from opioid overdoses number at least 42,000 a year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control.

"This is an epidemic that's been getting worse over 10 to 20 years," Caleb Alexander, co-director of Johns Hopkins Center for Drug Safety, told CNBC's "On The Money" in a recent interview. "I think it's important that we have realistic expectations about the amount of work that it will take and the amount of coordination to turn this steamship around," Alexander added.

[...] Alexander added: "The statistics are stunning. More than 2.1 million Americans have an opioid use disorder or opioid addiction" and he says the country needs to "invest tens of billions or hundreds of billions of dollars" to shore up the treatment system. He said patients should be able to access medications that "we know work to help reduce the cravings for further opioids."

Don't mention the Portugal model!

Meanwhile, the Massachusetts Attorney General is suing members of the family that runs Purdue Pharma:

Their family name graces some of the nation's most prestigious bastions of culture and learning — the Sackler Center for Arts Education at the Guggenheim Museum, the Sackler Lefcourt Center for Child Development in Manhattan and the Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology at Columbia University, to name a few.

Now the Sackler name is front and center in a lawsuit accusing the family and the company they own and run, Purdue Pharma, of helping to fuel the deadly opioid crisis that has killed thousands of Americans. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey took the unusual step of naming eight members of the Sackler family this week in an 80-page complaint that accused Purdue Pharma of spinning a "web of illegal deceit" to boost profits.

While prosecutors in more than a dozen other states hit hard by the opioid epidemic have sued Purdue Pharma, Healey is the first to name individual Sackler family members, along with eight company executives.

Original Submission

OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma May File for Bankruptcy to Disrupt Lawsuits 48 comments

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma reportedly exploring bankruptcy

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma is exploring filing for bankruptcy to address potentially significant liabilities from thousands of lawsuits alleging the drug manufacturer contributed to the deadly opioid crisis sweeping the United States, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.

The deliberations show how Purdue and its wealthy owners, the Sackler family, are under pressure to respond to mounting litigation accusing the pharmaceutical company of misleading doctors and patients about risks associated with prolonged use of its prescription opioids.

Purdue denies the allegations, arguing that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved labels for its opioids carried warnings about the risk of abuse and misuse associated with the drugs.

Filing for Chapter 11 protection would halt the lawsuits and allow the drug maker to negotiate legal claims with plaintiffs under the supervision of a U.S. bankruptcy judge, the sources said.

No "Big Tobacco" moment for Purdue Pharma. Cut and run.

Previously: City of Everett, Washington Sues OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma
OxyContin's 12-Hour Problem
South Carolina Sues OxyContin Maker Purdue
Tens or Hundreds of Billions of Dollars Needed to Combat Opioid Crisis?
Purdue Pharma to Cut Sales Force, Stop Marketing Opioids to Doctors
Colorado Attorney General Sues Purdue Pharma

Related: The Dutch Supply Heroin Addicts With Dope and Get Better Results Than USA
U.S. Opioid Deaths May be Plateauing

Original Submission

OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma to Plead Guilty to Three Criminal Charges 67 comments

OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma to Plead Guilty to Three Criminal Charges

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma to plead guilty to 3 criminal charges as part of an $8 billion-plus settlement

WASHINGTON (AP) — Purdue Pharma, the company that makes OxyContin, the powerful prescription painkiller that experts say helped touch off an epidemic, will plead guilty to three federal criminal charges as part of a settlement of more than $8 billion, Justice Department officials told The Associated Press.

The company will plead guilty to a criminal information being filed Wednesday in federal court in New Jersey to three counts, including conspiracy to defraud the United States and violating federal anti-kickback laws, the officials said.

The deal does not release any of the company's executives or owners — members of the wealthy Sackler family — from criminal liability. A criminal investigation is ongoing.

The officials were not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Also at: Business Insider, CBS News, and ABC News.

Guilty pleas? You seldom see that - these corporates always seem to get away with weasel word statements to the effect, "We acknowledge no wrongdoing blah blah blah . . . "

Purdue Pharma Pleads Guilty to Opioid Crisis Charges, Will Become a Public Benefit Corporation

OxyContin maker to plead guilty to federal criminal charges, pay $8 billion, and will close the company

Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, has agreed to plead guilty to three federal criminal charges for its role in creating the nation's opioid crisis and will pay more than $8 billion and close down the company.

The money will go to opioid treatment and abatement programs. The privately held company has agreed to pay a $3.5 billion fine as well as forfeit an additional $2 billion in past profits, in addition to the $2.8 billion it agreed to pay in civil liability.
"Purdue Pharma actively thwarted the United States' efforts to ensure compliance and prevent diversion," said Drug Enforcement Administration Assistant Administrator Tim McDermott. "The devastating ripple effect of Purdue's actions left lives lost and others addicted."

The company doesn't have $8 billion in cash available to pay the fines. So Purdue will be dissolved as part of the settlement, and its assets will be used to create a new "public benefit company" controlled by a trust or similar entity designed for the benefit of the American public. The Justice Department said it will function entirely in the public interest rather than to maximize profits. Its future earnings will go to paying the fines and penalties, which in turn will be used to combat the opioid crisis.

That new company will continue to produce painkillers such as OxyContin, as well as drugs to deal with opioid overdose. Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, who announced the settlement, defended the plans for the new company to continue to sell that drug, saying there are legitimate uses for painkillers such as OxyContin.

Also at The New York Times, Bloomberg, NBC, and CBS.


Original Submission

Original Submission

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  • (Score: 2) by Revek on Tuesday September 11 2018, @02:06PM (5 children)

    by Revek (5022) on Tuesday September 11 2018, @02:06PM (#733147)

    Even if you caused the problem. Getting the FDA to make opioids schedule two isn't even discussed as a possibility. It would immediately reduce the number of prescriptions and limit supply to thirty days per person. Every prescription would have to be done by hand, by the doctor or practitioner. This is a simple step but no one is looking at it as a step toward solving this manufactured crisis.

    This page was generated by a Swarm of Roaming Elephants
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by takyon on Tuesday September 11 2018, @02:15PM (3 children)

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {}> on Tuesday September 11 2018, @02:15PM (#733151) Journal

      Some opioids are on Schedule II. Morphine, oxycodone (Percocet, OxyContin), oxymorphone, fentanyl...

      I'd rather deschedule all drugs than make it harder for legitimate users of pain medications to get what they need. And nobody in the current administration is considering the one proven way to reduce opioid dependence []: legalizing cannabis.

      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Gaaark on Tuesday September 11 2018, @05:43PM (2 children)

        by Gaaark (41) on Tuesday September 11 2018, @05:43PM (#733219) Journal

        So many people taking 'happy pills' end up on them long term and end up not happy, or even unable to manage the least amount of stress that before they handled without a problem...

        Yes, prescriptions like this should be limited to a month, then re-examined. Too many people are left on prescriptions that should have been limited.

        Take the drug makers out of the doctors office and force the doctor to take care of the patient, not the drug maker.

        --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
        • (Score: 2) by takyon on Tuesday September 11 2018, @05:52PM (1 child)

          by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {}> on Tuesday September 11 2018, @05:52PM (#733225) Journal

          The risk is doubling down on the same ineffective Drug War policies that have been around for decades. Limit prescriptions if you need to, maybe lower the amount given each time, but don't move drugs up to Schedule II.

          Legit users can't even get their pain meds. My friend went to the doctor, got a Percocet prescription, and couldn't even get any after driving around to several pharmacies. No wonder there are people out there switching from prescriptions to cheap heroin.

          [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11 2018, @08:40PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11 2018, @08:40PM (#733296)

            yeah they should be smoking pot, good for their lungs too!

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Thexalon on Tuesday September 11 2018, @02:46PM

      by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday September 11 2018, @02:46PM (#733164)

      And meanwhile cannabis and anything that is chemically similar, which might be better for pain relief for some folks and with much less risk of addiction, is Schedule I for no good reason.

      The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
  • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Tuesday September 11 2018, @03:31PM (3 children)

    by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <> on Tuesday September 11 2018, @03:31PM (#733173) Homepage Journal

    -dicted or have ever practiced self-injury: []

    A few years ago I ran into one of my very best friends in downtown Portland. He asked me to wait for him while he went to do something, that he'd be back in an hour.

    I never saw my friend again

    Yes I Have No Bananas. []
  • (Score: 2) by OrugTor on Tuesday September 11 2018, @04:26PM (4 children)

    by OrugTor (5147) on Tuesday September 11 2018, @04:26PM (#733187)

    It looks like an opportunity to be a part of the solution. As part of a civil settlement, Purdue supplies buprenorphine for free. Plus a cash settlement to fund treatment plans (counseling, psychosocial support).

    • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Tuesday September 11 2018, @05:28PM (3 children)

      by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday September 11 2018, @05:28PM (#733217)

      That will help, but won't make a lot of people whole. Some of those hooked on opiates due to Oxy are now 6 feet underground.

      The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
      • (Score: 3, Funny) by bob_super on Tuesday September 11 2018, @07:06PM (1 child)

        by bob_super (1357) on Tuesday September 11 2018, @07:06PM (#733252)

        But since they are in CO, that's still a mile above the average American.

        • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Tuesday September 11 2018, @10:07PM

          by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday September 11 2018, @10:07PM (#733360) Journal

          Just a reminder: From Denver Colorado, it's a long, long, uphill trip to Wyoming.

          We've finally beat Medicare! - Houseplant in Chief
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11 2018, @08:42PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11 2018, @08:42PM (#733297)

        Indeed. They're ODing fast enough to clean out the gene pool. Make ALL drugs legal!

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11 2018, @09:38PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11 2018, @09:38PM (#733334)

    So can we declare the war on drugs a success?