The pharmaceutical company behind OxyContin, Purdue Pharma, is being investigated by federal prosecutors in Connecticut regarding certain claims the drugmaker made while marketing the opioid pain medication.
Purdue claimed that the blockbuster painkiller provides 12 hours of pain relief, requiring patients to take the drug just twice per day. However, according to the Los Angeles Times, the pharmaceutical company allegedly knew that some patients didn’t experience the full half-day of pain relief promised, leading them to experience symptoms of withdrawal and increase their risk of abusing the opioid medication.
Robert Josephson, a spokesperson for Purdue, told Bloomburg, “Purdue is committed to being part of the solution to our nation’s opioid crisis and has been cooperating with the US Attorney’s investigation. We will continue to do so until this matter is resolved.”
This isn’t the first time that Purdue has been involved in a criminal case. In 2007, three executives from Purdue pleaded guilty to misbranding charges involving OxyContin, after it was brought to light that its pharmaceutical sales reps were told to mislead physicians about the risks of opioid use. The company and its executives paid $630 million in penalties and were sentenced to perform community service.
In 2015, over 33,000 deaths in the US were linked to opioid use, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Several other drugmakers – including Endo International and Janssen Pharmaceuticals – are also facing lawsuits over their role in bringing about the opioid crisis.
On Thursday, President Donald Trump officially declared that the US opioid crisis is a national public health emergency.