The Empire of Pain - How the Sackler family created Oxycontin
“That’s the real Greek tragedy of this—that so many well-meaning doctors got co-opted. The level of influence is just mind-boggling. Purdue gave money to continuing medical education, to state medical boards, to faux grassroots organizations.” According to training materials, Purdue instructed sales representatives to assure doctors—repeatedly and without evidence—that “fewer than one per cent” of patients who took Oxycontin became addicted. (In 1999, a Purdue-funded study of patients who used Oxycontin for headaches found that the addiction rate was thirteen per cent.)
A recent exposé by the Los Angeles Times revealed that the first patients to use Oxycontin, in a study conducted by Purdue, were ninety women recovering from surgery in Puerto Rico. Roughly half the women required more medication before the twelve-hour mark. The study was never published. For Purdue, the business reason for obscuring such results was clear: the claim of twelve-hour relief was an invaluable marketing tool. But prescribing a pill on a twelve-hour schedule when, for many patients, it works for only eight is a recipe for withdrawal, addiction, and abuse.