Saturday, 3 January 2015
No pain, no gain
PurduePharma has earned over $27 billion on the sale of Oxycontin just in the United States, and I am betting that the executives of that prosperous firm are aware that much of their product is being diverted into illicit channels for consumption by addicts. Actually, they recently requested that the Food and Drug Administration withdraw their 1995 approval of their product.
So does this mean a drug company got religion and saw the error of its ways? Not exactly. As explained in this two-page annotation of the Purdue letter in the January issue of Harper’s magazine, the pharmaceutical firm already has a new version, supposedly with greater illicit-use protections built into its formulation, on the market. The original Oxy hasn’t been for sale since 2010, so the withdrawal application is a bit of closing the barn door after the horse has escaped.
So why do it? Well, wouldn’t ya know, a generic version of the painkiller was about to get a toehold on the market from another company, so the requested withdrawal of the Oxy authorization, just a month before the patent expiration date, was a way to block competition. That keeps the profits rolling in on the new, improved Oxy that pill mills can crank into the bloodstreams of addict from coast to coast.
Purdue paid over $600 million in fines in 2007 after its top executives pleaded guilty to charges of fraudulently marketing their killer product. That comes to about 5% of gross sales, undoubtedly a manageable business expense—though perhaps they couldn’t deduct it as such. Meanwhile, some 17,000 people a year die of opioid poisoning or overdoses, the most famous being actor Heath Ledger. In short, business is booming.
Posted by Tim Frasca at 16:29