New Hampshire is the latest state to join the outcry against Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin. The state sued the company for alleged deceptive marketing strategies.
The attorney general’s office in New Hampshire sued the pharma company on Aug. 8, 2017, for downplaying the risk of addiction to the drug, bragging its effectiveness and declaring that it is not addictive. The company also faltered in reporting suspicious prescribers.
New Hampshire called ‘ground zero’ for opioid crisis
A spurt in addiction cases has worsened the opioid problem in the state that has compelled the deputy administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to call the state “ground zero” for the opioid crisis. Close to 500 people died due to overdoses in 2016, a huge jump since 2000. The state attorney general’s office is already investigating a litany of drug companies and their dubious marketing practices for the past two years.
“To defeat the epidemic, we must stop creating new users. Part of that is making sure these highly addictive and dangerous drugs are marketed truthfully and without deception and in such a way as not to minimize addiction risks or overstate benefits to patients,” said Deputy Attorney General Ann Rice.
However, the company rejected the allegation that it was involved in anything unethical. Spokespersons from the company argue that OxyContin alone cannot propel opioid crisis in the country because it accounts for less than 2 percent of the opioid prescription market in the U.S. They said that the company was committed to the cause of the opioid crisis and acknowledged the concerns of the state. They also rigorously supported access to Naloxone, an opioid antagonist.
On the other hand, the lawsuit criticized the company for laxity in tackling the opioid crisis. It alleged that the company had many sales representatives who were aware of six or seven prescribers a day in New Hampshire from 2013 to 2015. Yet, they chose to be unresponsive. The patients were also told that the drug was safe.
Surprisingly, Purdue told prescribers that any misuse of opioids is only “pseudoaddiction,” as per the lawsuit. They grossly encouraged physicians to prescribe more opioids to potentially addicted patients.
“The role that drug makers have played in contributing to the heroin, fentanyl and opioid crisis that is devastating communities in New Hampshire and states across the country is abundantly clear,” said Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan.
Just two months ago, the attorney general of Missouri had sued Purdue and two other pharmaceutical companies for fueling the opioid epidemic.
Dealing with opioid addiction
Opioid addiction is no different from other substance abuse disorders and calls for immediate treatment. Early intervention ensures long-term recovery and long-lasting sobriety. If a loved one is struggling with an addiction, seek immediate help. Any delay can exacerbate the situation.
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