'Dark and Disturbing' DOJ Report Shows Big Pharma Knew of Opioid Abuse After Releasing Popular Painkiller
As lawsuits mount against the pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma over its knowledge that one of its best-selling drugs was addictive and dangerous, a newly- uncovered Justice Department report shows that the multi-billion dollar corporation also knew that patients were abusing OxyContin shortly after the drug’s release.
Almost immediately after releasing OxyContin in 1996, Purdue Pharma received reports that patients were crushing and snorting the drug and stealing it from pharmacies, and that some doctors were beginning to sell prescriptions for the highly addictive painkiller, which is chemically similar to heroin.
According to the New York Times’ report on the DOJ document, Purdue’s general counsel wrote in early 1999, “We have in fact picked up references to abuse of our opioid products on the internet.”
That same year, an OxyContin sales representative wrote in an email, “I feel like we have a credibility problem with our product,” after a doctor in Florida was arrested for illegally prescribing the drug. Sales representatives were discouraged by Purdue from raising concerns about abuse, with one saying his manager told him that “his job was to sell drugs, not to determine if a ‘doctor was a drug pusher.'”
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