Purdue and the Opioid Epidemic
In 1996, Purdue Pharma received an FDA approval for OxyContin, an extended-release form of oxycodone that the company claimed was safer than others and had a low risk of addiction. However, OxyContin had a high risk of addiction, leading countless people to abuse it by grinding it up and snorting or injecting it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, out of 700,000 Americans who died from drug overdoses from 1999 to 2017, almost 400,000 died after overdosing on prescription and illicit opioid drugs. During the one year period from Jan. 2, 2016 to Jan. 1, 2017, 64,070 people died of opioid overdoses.
Purdue and Big Pharma helped to drive the opioid epidemic by engaging in aggressive and potentially misleading marketing campaigns. Purdue Pharma mounted an especially aggressive marketing campaign for OxyContin, holding dozens of national pain conferences that were attended by more than 5,000 pharmacists, doctors, and nurses to spur them to prescribe OxyContin for non-cancer pain. The marketing efforts worked. The number of prescriptions for OxyContin to treat non-cancer pain grew from 670,000 in 1997 to 6.2 million in 2002. By 2020, the U.S. market for opioid medications is expected to reach $18.4 billion.
*IMPORTANT – READ CAREFULLY: Andrews & Thornton, Fennemore Craig, and Goodnow McKay are engaged as co-counsel in limited representation for the purpose of pursuing bankruptcy claims only against select bankrupt pharmaceutical companies. The firms are taking no action to preserve statutes of limitations for any claimants (i.e., time deadline within which a claim must be presented). The firms represent multiple individual claimants and governmental entities with respect to claims against opioid manufacturers.