Jan 16, 2019

A new insight into OxyContin marketing

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma. Photo: Lane Turner/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The manufacturers of OxyContin not only engaged in a high-pressure, no-holds-barred marketing barrage, but also sought to shift the blame to the people who became addicted to their highly addictive drug, according to a new filing from Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.

Driving the news: The document adds new details to the emerging public image of Purdue Pharma and its former president, Richard Sackler.

  • "The launch of OxyContin tablets will be followed by a blizzard of prescriptions that will bury the competition. The prescription blizzard will be so deep, dense, and white ..." Sackler said at a launch party for the drug, according to the filing.
  • That blizzard happened, thanks in part to aggressive marketing efforts and partnerships with prominent teaching hospitals.

Among the most damning accusations in the Massachusetts filing: Accusations that the Sackler family, faced with evidence of how powerfully addictive their product was, shifted the burden back to patients — reinforcing a stigma that public health officials are still trying to combat.

  • "We have to hammer on the abusers in every way possible. They are the culprits and the problem. They are reckless criminals," Richard Sackler said in a 2001 email, according to the legal filing.

The other side: Purdue, in a statement to Boston's WBUR, accused Healey of trying to "vilify a single manufacturer whose medicines represent less than 2 percent of opioid pain prescriptions rather than doing the hard work of trying to solve a complex public health crisis."

Go deeper: Purdue Pharma will no longer promote opioids to doctors

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Gilead expands access to experimental coronavirus drug in emergency cases

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Gilead Sciences CEO Daniel O’Day said in an open letter Saturday the company is expanding access to its experimental anti-coronavirus drug remdesivir to include severely ill COVID-19 patients.

The big pig picture: President Trump has called the antiviral drug "promising," but the results of six clinical trials on this investigational medicine are still being conducted, so its effectiveness in COVID-19 the treatment has yet to be proved. The World Health Organization is involved in the tests.

Go deeperArrow21 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1 a.m. ET: 664,695 — Total deaths: 30,847 — Total recoveries: 140,156.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 1 a.m. ET: 124,464 — Total deaths: 2,191 — Total recoveries: 1,095.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump announces new travel advisories for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, but rules out quarantine enforcement. Per the CDC, residents of those states must now "refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days," with the exception of critical infrastructure industry workers.
  4. State updates: Alaska is latest state to issue a stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month and has moved its presidential primary to June 23. Some Midwestern swing voters who backed Trump's handling of the virus less than two weeks ago are balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter.
  5. World updates: In Spain, over 1,400 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  6. 🚀 Space updates: OneWeb filed for bankruptcy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  7. Hollywood: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have returned to U.S. after being treated for coronavirus.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Coronavirus updates: Global death toll tops 30,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 30,000 people around the world — with Italy reporting over 10,000 deaths, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: The number of deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. surpassed 2,000 on Saturday. The United States leads the world in confirmed coronavirus infections — more than 124,000 by late Saturday. The number of those recovered from the virus in the U.S. passed the 1,000-mark on Saturday evening.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health