Monday, September 10, 2018

OxyContin makers own a second opioid company, and have patented an antidote for withdrawal symptoms

Three pieces of news about the billionaire Sackler family, which owns Purdue Pharma, the makers of controversial painkiller OxyContin:
  • Turns out that the family also owns a little-known pharmaceutical company based in Rhode Island. Janice Williams reports for Newsweek: "Rhodes Pharma is of one of the largest creators of off-patent generic opioids. The company produces several opioid-based painkillers that contain addictive drugs including oxycodone, hydrocodone and morphine. Rhodes Pharma was started in 2007, according to company registration documents obtained by the Financial Times." Purdue and Rhodes supply 14.4 million prescriptions in the U.S. More than 66 percent of the 63,000 overdose deaths in 2016 were related to opioid use, Williams reports. 
  • Earlier this year the Sackler family patented a form of buprenorphine, which is used to ease withdrawal symptoms in medication-assisted drug treatment. "Some are expressing outrage that the Sacklers, who have in essence profited from opioid addictions, may soon be profiting from the antidote," Lindsey Bever reports for The Washington Post.
  • Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has filed suit against Purdue Pharma for helping cause the opioid epidemic by "misleading doctors and patients in Colorado about the high risk of addiction from their medications and claimed the company 'downplayed the risk of addiction associated with opioids,'" Williams reports. "The lawsuit also said Purdue Pharma’s marketing not only 'exaggerated the benefits' of the medication but the company also told medical practitioners that they were in jeopardy of violating the Hippocratic Oath if they didn’t treat patients suffering from certain conditions with opioids." Other states have made similar claims.

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