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Oxycontin Inventor Destroyed? – Purdue Pharma Files for Bankruptcy

Oxycontin Inventor Destroyed? – Purdue Pharma Files for Bankruptcy

Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy protection this Sunday as part of a $10 billion deal that settles roughly half of the 2,200+ lawsuits regarding its role in the opioid crisis that has claimed more than 400,000 lives since 1999.

“This settlement framework avoids wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and years on protracted litigation, and instead will provide billions of dollars and critical resources to communities across the country trying to cope with the opioid crisis,” says Steve Miller, head of Purdue’s board of directors.

Purdue Pharma was founded in 1892 in New York and purchased by the Sackler family in 1952.

The company is famous for its painkiller OxyContin, an extended-release opioid first prescribed in 1996. In ads, OxyContin was described as “smooth and sustained pain control” lasting 12 hours. Officials claimed the drug was less addictive than other painkillers.

OxyContin is roughly 1.5 times stronger than morphine.

Purdue marketed its product to doctors by offering them incentives such as free trips and paid speaking engagements. By 2001, OxyContin had brought in nearly $3 billion in revenue.

Reports about addiction and abuse began to surface in 2000. In 2003, the DEA claimed that Purdue’s aggressive marketing methods had “very much exacerbated OxyContin’s widespread abuse.”

In 2004, West Virginia’s Attorney General charged Purdue for ‘deceptive marketing.’ In 2007, Purdue was fined $600 million for misleading the public about OxyContin’s potential for addiction. Three of the company’s top executives pleaded guilty to misbranding charges and were fined $34.5 million.

In 2012, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study which found that nearly 80% of those seeking help for heroin addiction had previously abused pharmaceutical narcotics – primarily OxyContin.

In 2016, as total revenue from OxyContin eclipsed $30 billion, an investigation revealed that Purdue’s executives had been aware of OxyContin’s potential for abuse from the very beginning.

Today, Purdue faces lawsuits from nearly every state and from more than 2,000 jurisdictions, hospitals, and Native American tribes. The Justice Department is conducting civil and criminal probes.

Purdue reached a $270 million settlement with the state of Oklahoma earlier this year.

The settlement reached last week will see Purdue restructured as a public beneficiary trust, with all profits going to the plaintiffs. Purdue’s addiction treatment drugs will be provided to the public at no cost.

The Sackler family will forfeit ownership of the company, contribute $3 billion in cash, and sell its UK-based pharmaceutical network (Mundipharma) – but will remain wealthy and will not be criminally charged.

Plaintiffs who refused the terms of the settlement have promised to pursue further litigation to recover additional money from the Sackler family (much of which is believed to be held offshore). A recent filing by the New York attorney general’s office revealed nearly $1 billion in wire transfers from Purdue to the Sackler family. According to Forbes, the family is worth nearly $13 billion.

“This apparent settlement is a slap in the face to everyone who was had to bury a loved one due to this family’s destruction and greed,” argues Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “It allows the Sackler family to walk away billionaires and admit no wrongdoing.”

Purdue and its executives deserve to be punished, and I agree with Shapiro that the bankruptcy deal does not go far enough. And what about all the doctors who accepted bribes?

Hopefully the money from this deal will actually go to those in need (instead of being gobbled up by state governments) and the remaining plaintiffs will succeed in taking down the Sacklers.

Editor’s note: Its one thing to invent a wonder drug and later discontinue it because of the side effect, but its quite another thing to know that your drug is addictive (they knew this long ago) and continue to push the drug to where the primary market is addicts.

The Sackler family is massively guilty in this respect. The courts should go after not just the parents but also the children who benefited from this empire (even though they sancitmoniously claimed they have nothing to do with the running of the business).

Delray Beach, FL, near where I reside, was once the pill mill capital of the world. Former Governor Rick Scott put an end to this, but previous governors should have done it long ago.  There are still more rehab clinics per square inch in this area than anyplace in America, and not a day goes by that you don’t hear of another overdose.

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16 Comments

  1. Lee Fisher

    If you believe that the”children who have benefited from this Empire” should suffer also, then you obviously also believe in reparations to the ‘descendents of slaves” that say they were damaged because their ancestors three or four generations back were damaged. You don’t know anything about the Sackler family offspring, you must be a Kamala Harris supporter. Wise up

    Reply
    • Joe Gilbertson

      I’m not saying they should “suffer” I’m just saying that the money that was given to them (anything they did not earn themselves) should be subject to court proceedings. You may have a point with the “descendants of slaves” argument, but we are not talking historical events, we are talking direct beneficiaries of Purdue. The courts should be able to recover those funds.

      Reply
    • PETER ALLEN

      I don’t know anything about the sackler family but I do know that they will come out of this contrived ? bankruptcy? just as fine as all wealthy folks do! Laughing there asses off and screw everybody!

      Reply
      • PETER ALLEN

        You got that right, thanks!!

        Reply
  2. Wesley Frey

    I think that the doctors should be punished for their participation in this and receiving kick backs from the company, if they are that dumb that they didn’t know that this drug was addicting then they should at the least lose their license and be put out of business , how could they not see that a patient was having trouble with the drug.

    Reply
  3. ROBERT POWELL

    i have no doubt that the sacker family is now building a new factory in china or some other hideyhole in aisa to take-over right where the old factory left-off. this is just a minor bite in the butt for them .

    Reply
  4. WTF

    Ok – maybe you know the answer to this question since you believe people should be punished, seems to be an important question that through all this talk about how opioids kill people that never exactly gets addressed. My eyes are open, my ears are open, I shudder and try to read the news but the stories always skip this over… And I apologize in advance since maybe it’s off the subject and maybe I should ask it somewhere else. I don’t know where…

    But it’s real simple. How? How do opioids kill people? Are they taking whole bottles of the stuff because they’re going crazy? Are they moving from something small to something big and then jumping off a bridge? Are they so intoxicated that they drive into ditches? Are doctors actually prescribing enough to kill them?

    I suspect none of that is true and that instead it has more to do with black market and poisoned pills but I pulled that idea directly out of the air because nobody in the news ever explains how this happens. So do you know? I’d like to know. The answer might upset me, might make me mad at doctors, pharma, or maybe not. Maybe the answer will change how I see the whole issue.

    Because I’m getting old and I have pain and I can’t get any medicine for it – it’s a real pain in the butt to get pain pills for my neck. And why? WTF? My neck pain is never going away, ever! and all this new regulation – just like the gun nonsense – is making it hard for legitimate and proper use of something to be rightfully allowed while we punish all the people for things we really may not have our heads wrapped around. Or do they? Who knows. Do you know??

    Reply
    • Joe Gilbertson

      Being addicted is not a choice, addiction takes away choices. Where someone might reject an opioid knowing its addictive characteristics when given a choice, if their doctor (unwittingly) prescribes it at a certain level they may trust their doctor and end up with an addiction. Thereafter THEY HAVE NO CHOICE.

      If you have ever met an addict you know that nothing is more important than their addiction, not their reputation, not their job, not their family, not their health, not anything. They might die from an overdose, they might die from complications of not eating and not taking care of themselves, they might die from heart problems that are a direct result of their addiction. I know of people in their twenties who have had heart surgery from effects of their addiction and then later died from the same thing because their addiction was still in control.

      If the doctor has been misled about the drug, and thinks the dose he is giving is safe, then the company producing the drug is responsible. Purdue launched a drug in good faith, but eventually they KNEW that their drug had serious and dangerous addictive properties and continued to market it on that basis. They did not sufficiently warn doctors of the effects, they did not pull the drug in order to redefine its safe use (and I blame the FDA for at least part of that). They made hundreds of millions of dollars providing the product to unscrupulous doctors whose only intent was to feed addicts, and create new ones.

      I actually feel bad for the asbestos companies who were nailed by lawsuits, because I don’t believe anyone knew the harmful effects until the very last. But I believe Purdue had information on the danger of their product very early in the process and not only did nothing about it, they took advantage to sell more.

      Reply
      • WTF

        Hi Joe, thank you for your gracious and thoughtful reply. I see how the drug maker has affected the patients so much so that it can result in unexpected and even unprecedented addiction. But I’m afraid I still do not see the last piece of the puzzle – how does all that lead to death. Or even, under the doctor’s care, tragic consequences. If a doctor is advising a patient and there is a propensity to overuse or abuse the medicine then tapering off or some kind of medically-appropriate end to the habit would be in order. So how are people dying from this. That’s my question, how? Or another way, why are people dying from this?

        Reply
    • Daniel B

      Having taken oxycontin for several years the effects wear off after a while and the pain doesn’t get helped. I quit on my own and it can be done but I’d advise taking a couple of weeks because there are lingering effects including sleeplessness and flashbacks.

      Reply
  5. JayMar

    Whatever happened with personal responsibility? After my triple bypass and my knee replacement, I was given opioid painkillers in 90 day supplies and with at least one refill. After 6 months I could have asked for a renewal. I refused to take that. The strongest painkiller I took was Acetaminophen 900mg. After leaving the hospital in both of the above-mentioned occasions I was given a bottle each. I ended up throwing it away. Personal responsibility, family, and my integrity are far more meaningful than to subject myself to a horrendous addiction.

    Reply
  6. ROBERT POWELL

    a lot of these addicts are using after-hospital street drugs to compensate for the poor quality and are adding fentynal to the oxycontin. just a few pin-head size grains of fentynal added to the street cut oxycontin instantly becomes LETHAL OVERDOSE.

    Reply
    • WTF

      Is addiction quantifiable? I mean, is there a test? Or can somebody, anybody, just say they are addicted and proceed to disregard all law on that account? If it’s the pills and not the people, then why do so many people not become addicted?

      The story says the crisis ‘claimed over 400,000 lives. How did it do that? Only addicts? What even is an addict? And what was the alternative to the ‘addictive’ drugs – was there a non-addictive option that wasn’t offered?

      Reply
  7. Carson Tyler

    I, was always taught to be responsible for your actions. In today’s time everything has changed some wants someone else to be responsible. I’ve seen my cancer friends dying, and to think I was dying in such pain I would never forgive the weak people destroying doctors and companies for a few dollars. Companies been sued never should settle. GO TO COURT.

    Reply
  8. Daniel B

    Next time you have diarrhea you might try using mind control for it, but here’s a hint…don’t stray too far from a bathroom.
    Two of the most addictive substances are tobacco and alcohol but I don’t see too many states suing big tobacco or big distilleries. Just saying.

    Reply
    • Anne

      Some pain killers are not strong enough to help with serious pain, people who get addicted are taking more than they are ordered, they are meant to cover for four hour but alas pain comes back in three hours but you must take the tablets this how addidtion may start

      Reply

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