In a 312-page complaint, Massachusetts lawyers detail how members of the Purdue Pharma family contributed to the opioid epidemic. The complaint shows the company’s aggressive marketing strategy, including how it convinced doctors to over-prescribe drugs.
One argument in the documentation shows how representatives were trained to encourage doctors to prescribe medication to what the company called “opioid-naive” patients:
Purdue also promoted its drugs for opioid-naive patients using the receptive term “first line opioid.” “First line” is a medical term for the preferred first step in treating a patient. Opioids are not an appropriate first line therapy. Nevertheless, Purdue’s internal documents and testimony from sales reps shows that Purdue repeatedly promoted OxyContin as “first line” — “the first thing they would take to treat pain.” (Sic: “first-time opioid” should include a hyphen.)
A 2001 email written by Richard Sackler, whose family owns OxyContin, blames victims:
“We have to hammer on abusers in every way possible. They are the culprits and the problem. They are reckless criminals.”
The lawsuit also charges the family with claiming that opioids are addictive to only one percent of the population, although they had no evidence for that claim.
This lawsuit follows others in Washington, Ohio, and Alabama. Last year, the company did stop promoting opioids.
Read more in the legal complaint. According to the documentation, how did the company wrongfully use persuasive communication?
In some of the documentation, we see ads and tactics that any company might use. Which do you find to be typical examples, and which cross an ethical line?