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Many physicians thought oxycodone is weaker than morphine. It's not. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Purdue Pharma intentionally decided not to correct doctors' misperceptions about the strength of OxyContin, according to a deposition obtained by ProPublica.

Why it matters: There's a mountain of evidence piling up, even in public, that suggests the Sackler family knew its product was highly addictive, but blew past any concerns about that fact in search of higher and higher profits, helping to create the opioid epidemic.

The deposition includes a 1997 email exchange between Michael Friedman, Purdue's top marketing executive, and Richard Sackler, whose family founded and controlled Purdue.

  • Friedman at one point noted that doctors were mistaken about the drug's potency. "We are well aware of the view held by many physicians that oxycodone is weaker than morphine," he wrote. "I do not plan to do anything about that.”
  • “I agree with you,” Sackler replied.

A filing from Massachusetts' attorney general said the Sackler family knew people were becoming dependent on OxyContin, but had a plan in place to shift the blame onto those addicted patients.

Related: Former FDA commissioner David Kessler told "60 Minutes" that the agency shouldn't have allowed opioids to be marketed for long-term use.

  • "We don't know whether the drugs are safe and effective for chronic use," Kessler says. "The rigorous kind of scientific research the agency should be relying on is not there."
  • The interview airs Sunday.

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

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Biden freezes U.S. arms deals with Saudi Arabia and UAE

Trump struck several large arms deals with Mohammed bin Salman (L) and Saudi Arabia. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

The Biden administration has put on hold two big arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which were approved in the final weeks of the Trump administration, a State Department official tells Axios.

Why it matters: The sales of F-35 jets and attack drones to the UAE and a large supply of munitions to Saudi Arabia will be paused pending a review. That signals a major policy shift from the Trump era, and may herald sharp tensions with both Gulf countries.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 hours ago - Podcasts

Robert Downey Jr. launches VC funds to help save the planet

Robert Downey Jr. on Wednesday announced the launch of two venture capital funds focused on startups in the sustainability sector, the latest evolution of a project he launched two years ago called Footprint Coalition.

Between the lines: This is a bit of life imitating art, as Downey Jr. spent 11 films portraying a character who sought to save the planet (or, in some cases, the universe).

DHS warns of "heightened threat" because of domestic extremism

Supporters of former President Trump protest inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday issued an advisory warning of a "heightened threat environment" in the U.S. because of "ideologically-motivated violent extremists."

Why it matters: DHS believes the threat of violence will persist for "weeks" following President Biden's inauguration. The extremists include those who opposed the presidential transition, people spurred by "grievances fueled by false narratives" and "anger over COVID-19 restrictions ... and police use of force[.]"

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