OxyContin maker set to cash in on opioid epidemic

Summary and Analysis

Purdue Pharma is back in the news again as Richard Sackler, part of the family that owns Purdue, is named as one of the inventors on a recent patent for a drug designed for use "treating" addiction. 

Purdue's part in promoting widespread use of opioids through direct marketing and manipulation has become the subject of more than a thousand suits according to the article. That the same company now stands to profit from the disaster they helped create is just one more example of why policymakers need to be continuously alert to questionable, unethical and potentially dangerous marketing and business practices associated with Big Pharma. Other commentators have begun to take notice such as this one in The Hill

This is an important lesson to bear in mind when evaluating claims from drug manufacturers about the benefits of Medication-Assisted Treatment.  

Excerpted from Quartz

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Richard Sackler, whose family owns Purdue Pharma—makers of the notorious painkiller OxyContin—is part of a team that has been granted a patent aimed at helping to battle the opioid epidemic the company has been accused of helping create.

The Financial Times reported that the patent was granted in January for a new form of buprenorphine, a mild opiate designed to control drug cravings and help addicts wean off stronger opioids. Sackler was listed as one of six inventors. The new formulation comes in the shape of a wafer that can be quickly dissolved beneath the tongue.

The patent, which application acknowledges the extent of the opioid crisis, makes no mention of Purdue Pharma’s connection to the epidemic. The privately held company has been sued more than a thousand times for purportedly fueling the opioid crisis, now so pervasive that one in five Americans know someone who is addicted. (Purdue Pharma has denied allegations from the Massachusetts attorney general that it had “a deadly, deceptive scheme to sell opioids.”)