Oxycontin goes global: It works to get people addicted, so there’s money to be made
Harriet Ryan, Lisa Girion, and Scott Glover have been reporting in the LA Times a series of really excellent articles on OxyContin’s destructive effects on public health, another example of a company deliberately doing harm to people in order to make profits. The reports so far, in order of publication:
And the most recent report in the series: OxyContin goes global — “We’re only just getting started.” That report begins:
OxyContin is a dying business in America.
With the nation in the grip of an opioid epidemic that has claimed more than 200,000 lives, the U.S. medical establishment is turning away from painkillers. Top health officials are discouraging primary care doctors from prescribing them for chronic pain, saying there is no proof they work long-term and substantial evidence they put patients at risk.
Prescriptions for OxyContin have fallen nearly 40% since 2010, meaning billions in lost revenue for its Connecticut manufacturer, Purdue Pharma.
So the company’s owners, the Sackler family, are pursuing a new strategy: Put the painkiller that set off the U.S. opioid crisis into medicine cabinets around the world.
A network of international companies owned by the family is moving rapidly into Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and other regions, and pushing for broad use of painkillers in places ill-prepared to deal with the ravages of opioid abuse and addiction.
In this global drive, the companies, known as Mundipharma, are using some of the same controversial marketing practices that made OxyContin a pharmaceutical blockbuster in the U.S.
In Brazil, China and elsewhere, the companies are running training seminars where doctors are urged to overcome “opiophobia” and prescribe painkillers. They are sponsoring public awareness campaigns that encourage people to seek medical treatment for chronic pain. They are even offering patient discounts to make prescription opioids more affordable.
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy said he would advise his peers abroad “to be very careful” with opioid medications and to learn from American “missteps.” . . .
Corporations are sociopaths. The suffering of people means nothing to them except a possible source of revenue, and if more suffering brings more revenue, then it’s good. “Do no harm” makes no sense to them if it costs potential profits.