Yves here. This isn’t the first telling of Purdue Pharma’s orchestrated campaign to ramp up sales of OxyContin, including misrepresenting the risks of addiction and identifying doctors who could be persuaded to prescribe the medication heavily, but it is a story that cannot be told too often.
By Fred Schulte, a four time Pulitzer Prize finalist who has worked at the Baltimore Sun, the South Florida Sun Sentinel and the Center for Public Integrity. Originally published at Kaiser Health News
Purdue Pharma left almost nothing to chance in its whirlwind marketing of its new painkiller OxyContin.
From 1996 to 2002, Purdue pursued nearly every avenue in the drug supply and prescription sales chain — a strategy now cast as reckless and illegal in more than 1,500 federal civil lawsuits from communities in Florida to Wisconsin to California that allege the drug has fueled a national epidemic of addiction.
Kaiser Health News is releasing years of Purdue’s internal budget documents and other records to offer readers a chance to evaluate how the privately held Connecticut company spent hundreds of millions of dollars to launch and promote the drug, a trove of information made publicly available here for the first time.
All of these internal Purdue records were obtained from a Florida attorney general’s office investigation of Purdue’s sales efforts that ended late in 2002.
I have had copies of those records in my basement for years. I was a reporter at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, which, along with the Orlando Sentinel, won a court battle to force the attorney general to release the company files in 2003. At the time, the Sun-Sentinel was writing extensively about a growing tide of deaths from prescription drugs such as OxyContin.