Stamford’s Purdue Pharma, the company that makes the controversial painkiller Oxycontin, has responded to a damning article in The LA Times that accused Purdue of turning a blind eye to abuse of the powerful opioid.
The Times article centered on a drug ring that was run out of a sham clinic in Los Angeles, where a doctor was prescribing thousands of Oxycontin pills each week. The ring was busted and its organizers arrested in 2011.
The paper laid out evidence that Purdue Pharma was tracking prescription trends across the country, and had strong evidence to suggest that the Lake Medical clinic was a front for criminal activity long before the Drug Enforcement Agency took action.
One of Purdue’s own sales managers raised the alarm, saying she believed the DEA should be contacted about the clinic.
The company was also contacted by local pharmacists who became suspicious. Despite this, claimed the Times, Purdue did not share its evidence with authorities.
In response to the article, Purdue refuted those claims. General Counsel Philip Strassburger said in a statement that the company did pass information about Lake Medical to state and federal law enforcement, and was proud to assist them in prosecuting the drug ring.
Strassburger also touted Purdue's Abuse and Diversion Detection program, which it launched in 2002, and which he said has been praised by law enforcement.
In a further statement provided to WNPR, a company spokesman said, "the LA Times wildly distorts the role that Purdue, a company representing two percent of opioid prescriptions, plays in policing the pharmaceutical supply chain. Contrary to the paper’s implications, we cannot simply order a wholesaler to stop shipping a product. However, we can and have reduced products shipped to a wholesaler if we have concerns about the pharmacy customer."
Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that more than 40 people die every day in the U.S. from overdoses of narcotic painkillers, more than heroin and cocaine combined.