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AG Shapiro sues oxycontin creator Purdue Pharma for role in fueling opioid epidemic

Christian Fernsby |
Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, the creator of prescription painkiller OxyContin, accusing the company of a multi-faceted, illegal effort to market OxyContin in Pennsylvania.

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Shapiro’s suit is the first to specifically detail Purdue’s barrage of sales representatives targeting Pennsylvania doctors as a key facet of their campaign to push addictive opioids on Pennsylvanians.

Purdue’s sales force completed 531,000 visits to doctors’ offices and pharmacies in Pennsylvania, pushing OxyContin to doctors who overprescribed and even illegally prescribed the addictive opioid.

The Attorney General’s suit also cites the multifaceted marketing campaign in Pennsylvania by Purdue and their creation of “pseudo-addiction,” a fabricated condition they utilized to get their doctors to ignore early signs of addicted patients and write more prescriptions.

“There is nothing natural about this epidemic it was manufactured in part by Purdue Pharma, as the company deceptively marketed OxyContin despite knowing the risk of addiction.

“While Pennsylvania paid the price, Purdue made more than $35 billion in revenue.

“We’re taking action to hold them accountable for their greed and the devastation they pushed for profit.”

The lawsuit alleges that Purdue launched an illegal marketing campaign of deception targeting Pennsylvania doctors and patients to change attitudes, practices, and the culture surrounding pain management.

Some of the most egregious components of the campaign include:

Purdue deployed their highly trained sales staff to blanket Pennsylvania, making sales calls and in-person visits to physicians, totaling more than half a million visits in Pennsylvania alone, an amount second to only California.

Purdue targeted Pennsylvania doctors with suspicious prescribing activity and would invest more sales force and marketing to get those doctors to prescribe even more OxyContin – sometimes resulting in as much as a 500% increase in OxyContin prescriptions by one office alone.

Purdue misinformed doctors and pharmacists about the addictive nature of OxyContin and used industry thought leaders and in-house marketing literature to dispel the facts about the drug.

As the opioid epidemic grew, Purdue created “pseudo-addiction,” a Purdue-conjured disease that showed similar equities as addiction but was to be treated, according to Purdue, with additional opioids.

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