BURN AT BOTH ENDS

OxyContin Maker Sought to Sell Addiction-Treatment Meds: Lawsuit

Purdue Pharma, the OxyContin maker controlled by the famously-philanthropic Sackler family, sought to become an “end-to-end pain provider” and considered acquiring the rights to sell opioid addiction treatments, a lawsuit alleges. According to redacted passages from a court document reviewed by ProPublica, Purdue execs saw the addiction treatment market as being “naturally linked” to the company’s sale of OxyContin and noted the treatment marketplace was expanding. In Sept. 2014, the company set up a secret project called “Project Tango” to explore the potential expansion, the documents say. Dr. Kathe Sackler allegedly told employees in phone calls that the project required their “immediate attention.” More specifically, the company sought to sell Suboxone and Narcan—which is commonly used to reverse opioid overdoses—to the same doctors “who prescribed the most opioids,” the lawsuit says.

Redacted sections of the document reportedly go on to describe how the company went to “extreme lengths” to boost Oxy sales in the face of the drug’s declining reputation. They also reveal the Sacklers allegedly received over “$4 billion in payouts” from the company in 2007. The company told ProPublica that it decided against acquiring Suboxone and Narcan for sale, but acknowledged the company did consider acquiring the addiction-fighting drugs.