“the sale of opioids and the treatment of opioid addiction are ‘naturally linked'”

Of interest to me is their interest in entering the addiction treatment market.

ProPublica has a new report that review’s documents from a lawsuit filed against Purdue Pharma. The suit alleges that Purdue misled doctors and the public in ways that created the opioid crisis and blamed patients when they, predictably, developed opioid use disorders.

First, on how addiction treatment medications would fit into their business model:

In internal correspondence beginning in 2014, Purdue Pharma executives discussed how the sale of opioids and the treatment of opioid addiction are “naturally linked” and that the company should expand across “the pain and addiction spectrum,”

Second, on Purdue’s assessment of the market:

In September 2014, Purdue embarked on a secret project to join an industry that was booming thanks in part to OxyContin abuse: addiction treatment medication. Code-named Project Tango, it involved Purdue executives and staff as well as Dr. Kathe Sackler, a daughter of the company co-founder Mortimer Sackler and a defendant in the Massachusetts lawsuit. . . .

Internally, Purdue touted the growth of an industry that its aggressive marketing had done so much to foster.

“It is an attractive market,” the team working on the project wrote in a presentation. “Large unmet need for vulnerable, underserved and stigmatized patient population suffering from substance abuse, dependence and addiction.”

While OxyContin sales were declining, the internal team at Purdue touted the fact that the addiction treatment marketplace was expanding.

“Opioid addiction (other than heroin) has grown by ~20%” annually from 2000 to 2010, the company noted.

Questions

  • Is Purdue an outlier in the industry?
  • Or, does it represent business approaches that are common within the industry?
  • What lessons should we draw from Purdue’s use of doctors and research to support their claims?
  • What does this teach us about the relationship between pharma and government?
  • What false beliefs may be widely accepted in medicine and the media that represent a similar risk or poor care?

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