Oxycontin, Purdue Pharma, the Sackler family, and the FDA

June 8, 2018
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(This article was originally published at Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science, and syndicated at StatsBlogs.)

I just read this horrifying magazine article by Patrick Radden Keefe: The Family That Built an Empire of Pain: The Sackler dynasty’s ruthless marketing of painkillers has generated billions of dollars—and millions of addicts.

You really have to read the whole thing, because it’s just one story after another of bad behavior, people getting rich off others’ misfortunes.

But there was one thing that caught my eye, after the profiteering and the astroturf lobbying and the million-dollar lawsuits and the sleazy public relations and the deceptive advertising and the planted stories in the trade press:

Purdue, facing a shrinking market and rising opprobrium, has not given up the search for new users. In August, 2015, over objections from critics, the company received F.D.A. approval to market OxyContin to children as young as eleven.

On one hand, this seems just terrible. But I guess the point is that Purdue Pharma can act strategically, trying out different plans to increase the number of addicts and sell more pills; but regulators are required to consider each decision on its own merits. And, after all, if there were no potential for abuse, maybe it would make sense to approve, and even market, this opioid for use by children. It’s an interesting asymmetry.

P.S. Full disclosure: some of my research is supported by pharmaceutical companies.

The post Oxycontin, Purdue Pharma, the Sackler family, and the FDA appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.



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