Purdue Pharma, an opioid manufacturer, has announced that it will no longer market its product to doctors, amid reports by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) that the company tops the list of major donors to opioid advocacy groups.
Sen. McCaskill’s crusade comes 5 years after the U.S. Finance Committee called for an investigation into the prescription opioid health crisis, spearheaded by Senators Max Baucus and Chuck Grassley. In May 2012, sparked by the rise in opioid deaths nationwide, Baucus and Grassley investigated pain foundations that were funded by big pharma, specifically Purdue Pharma, Endo Pharmaceuticals and Johnson & Johnson.
Top 5 Lobby Donors give $10 million +
Though the 2012 investigation was dropped, Sen. McCaskill has proceeded to look into 14 advocacy groups, including the Academy of Integrative Pain Management (AIPM) and the US Pain Foundation, which lobby to fight legislation that restricts opioid prescribing. Five pharma companies gave the lion share of donations (over $10 million) to advocacy groups. The top five companies that have donated to opioid advocacy groups from 2012-2017 are:
- Purdue Pharma: Gave more than $4.15 million in donations from 2012-2017 to groups like Academy of Integrative Pain Management (AIPM), as well as doctor kickbacks for pushing opioids to patients.
- Insys Therapeutics Inc: Manufacturer of a fentanyl-based cancer pain drug, Subsys, gave $3.15 million to U.S. Pain Foundation and others.
- Depomed Inc: Donated $1.07 million to the US Pain Foundation.
- Johnson & Johnson: Donated $465,142 to the US Pain Foundation.
- Mylan NV: Donated $20,250 from the US Pain Foundation.
The report says that doctors affiliated with the 14 advocacy groups received $1.6 million over 5 years.
Purdue to Slash Sales Team
In addition to the halt in marketing, Purdue plans to lay-off sales staff. This change comes amid an unprecedented rise in opioid deaths. In 2016 along, there were 42,000 opioid overdose deaths in the US.
Whether or not this change will help to curb the rising rate of opioid deaths is yet unknown, however, it is hoped that by reducing kickbacks and lobbying dollars, Purdue’s decision will lower the rate of unnecessary opioid prescriptions in the US.
Many people’s opioid addictions start with a valid prescription for pain but turn into abuse once dependence and addiction occur. Often, opioid abuse turns to illicit drug abuse (Heroin and Fentynal) since these drugs are cheaper and easier to obtain without a prescription.
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If you or someone you love is struggling with opioid addiction, it’s important to get into treatment as soon as possible. Futures can help. Call today.