Purdue Pharma’s Foreign Affiliate Now Selling Overdose Cure

Summary and Analysis

This article covers the history of Purdue Pharma playing both ends of the problem -- providing opioids that lead to addition and other drugs for those who become addicted. 

This serves as a cautionary tale for communities considering drug-based "solutions" to the opioid crisis. The player with the largest marketing budget is Big Pharma and the industry's record indicates when it comes to addictive drugs, it frequently does not operate in the best interest of the larger community. 

There is no viable pill-based solution to the opioid crisis. Addressing addiction requires a wholistic approach. 

Excerpted from WGBH

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The gleaming white booth towered over the medical conference in Italy in October, advertising a new brand of antidote for opioid overdoses. “Be prepared. Get naloxone. Save a life,” the slogan on its walls said.

Some conference attendees were stunned when they saw the company logo: Mundipharma, the international affiliate of Purdue Pharma — the maker of the blockbuster opioid, OxyContin, widely blamed for unleashing the American overdose epidemic.

Here they were cashing in on a cure.

“You’re in the business of selling medicine that causes addiction and overdoses, and now you’re in the business of selling medicine that treats addiction and overdoses?” asked Dr. Andrew Kolodny, an outspoken critic of Purdue who has testified against the company in court. “That’s pretty clever, isn’t it?”

As Purdue Pharma buckles under a mountain of litigation and public protest in the United States, its foreign affiliate, Mundipharma, has expanded abroad, using some of the same tactics to sell the addictive opioids that made its owners, the Sackler family, among the richest in the world. Mundipharma is also pushing another strategy globally: From Europe to Australia, it is working to dominate the market for opioid overdose treatment.