You may have heard and seen the name Purdue Pharma making headlines lately, and if you are familiar with the opioid epidemic, you most likely agree with our team at The Blanchard Institute when we say, “it’s about time!” Purdue Pharma is the company behind the addictive painkiller OxyContin. OxyContin is responsible for taking the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans since its release in 1995. What was initially seen as a medical breakthrough soon received negative feedback and concern around the ethicacy and “abuse potential” of the drug from pain patients, their caretakers and their healthcare providers.
Here’s the background on the opioid epidemic that you need to know:
In the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies like Purdue Pharma made great efforts to reassure the medical community that patients would not become addicted to their opioid pain relievers, so healthcare providers started prescribing them more often to more people. By 2016 an estimated 130+ Americans were dying everyday from opioid-related drug overdoses and over 10 million misused opioids throughout the year. It was quickly becoming clear that these pain killers were, in fact, highly addictive. In 2017, the US Department of Health and Human Services deemed the misuse of opioids a public health emergency and finally, just within this past year, Purdue Pharma was taken to federal court.
Purdue Pharma pleads guilty:
On November 24, 2020 Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty to federal charges, admitting the company’s role in kick starting the opioid epidemic. The chairperson for Purdue’s Board of Directors admitted on video that their team had worked to prevent the discovery of their products’ path to the black market, reported misleading information to the DEA, and had paid doctors to prescribe more OxyContin. They will be paying hefty fines, but most importantly the company will be effectively dissolved and the family behind it will have no involvement moving forward.
This is significant not only for our team and for our clients, but also for the medical community and Americans as a whole. This is the government’s most public and transparent attempt to combat addiction and to hold drug makers accountable for so many deaths and substance use disorders. A representative from Purdue Pharma stated that they settled “in order to facilitate a global resolution.” Although we are far from ending the opioid epidemic, this is a huge step in the right direction and leaves us feeling hopeful for the future of opioid prescription and misuse.
Please reach out to The Blanchard Institute for more information about the opioid epidemic, Purdue Pharma’s recent dissolution, or any questions you may have surrounding the misuse of prescription drugs. If you or a loved one struggle with substance use, we are here to help. We offer varying levels of care to support your long-term recovery. With help, recovery is possible.