Apr 10, 2019

Purdue Pharma's cozy relationship with Tufts

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals

OxyContin pills. Photo: Liz O. Baylen/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family — both of which are facing legal questions about their involvement in the opioid epidemic — made donations to Tufts University's medical school that may have helped advance their business interests, Stat News reports.

Details: Tufts, for example, allowed a high-ranking Purdue executive who said in 2003 that OxyContin wasn't addictive to lecture in the pain program and receive the title of adjunct associate professor.

  • The Massachusetts attorney general has alleged that "Purdue got to control research on the treatment of pain coming out of a prominent and respected institution of learning."

The big picture: Experts told Stat that this isn't necessarily an example of a company buying influence, but instead it points to a larger problem:

  • "So much industry money flows to academic institutions, professional societies, and patient advocacy organizations that it’s hard to tease apart what’s a purchase of influence and what’s a marriage of convenience for groups with aligned interests or beliefs," Stat's Andrew Joseph writes.

Go deeper: 3 museums reject donations from Sackler family

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