TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) – For the second time in a month, the state of New Jersey has gone after a major drug manufacturer. The allegation, that the company put profit ahead of public health in pushing an opioid painkiller on patients and doctors alike.
First it was Arizona company Insys allegedly the overselling of fentanyl drug Subsys. Now, Attorney General Christopher Porrino is targeting Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma, and its drug of choice, Oxycontin.
Porrino told KYW Newsradio Purdue was “engaging in what we allege is a pattern of deception to convince doctors and the public that these medications were more effective than they were, less addictive than they actually were to cause doctors to prescribe them and patients to use them when they really didn’t need them.”
Porrino says staffers for Purdue hit up 7 or 8 doctors a day, 5 days a week, to promote Oxycontin sales, which account for most of Purdue’s $3 billion in annual revenue.
“Sales people for Purdue, called detailers, were out trying to convince doctors that they ought to be prescribing low dose opioid painkillers that Purdue marketed rather than Advil and Tylenol,” he added.
Particular targets were the elderly and so-called “opioid-naive patients.”
Purdue Pharma issued the following statement to KYW Newsradio when contacted about the allegations.
“We are deeply troubled by the opioid crisis and we are dedicated to being part of the solution. As a company grounded in science, we must balance patient access to FDA-approved medicines, while working collaboratively to solve this public health challenge. Although our products account for approximately 2% of the total opioid prescriptions, as a company, we’ve distributed the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, developed three of the first four FDA-approved opioid medications with abuse-deterrent properties and partner with law enforcement to ensure access to naloxone. We vigorously deny these allegations and look forward to the opportunity to present our defense.”