Big Pharma said there's 'no dose too high' for pain. The costs keep mounting

Big Pharma said there's 'no dose too high' to fight pain. But the costs keep mounting

5/11/2021 3:04:00 PM

Big Pharma said there's 'no dose too high' to fight pain. But the costs keep mounting

'The Crime of the Century,' a gripping new HBO docuseries from Alex Gibney, shows how corporate greed, marketing muscle and lax regulation created the opioid crisis.

Advertisement“The Crime of the Century” chronicles the history of pain treatment in the U.S. and how it’s been redefined over the decades, largely by the marketing efforts ofthe Sackler family, who founded and own Purdue. In particular, “Empire of Pain” author Patrick Radden Keefe, “Pain Killer” writer Barry Meier and an investigative team from the Washington Post add context to Gibney’s story of how Purdue brilliantly marketed OxyContin to keep its lethal potential a secret.

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Material from Purdue seen in the series shows the shift from looking at pain as an unpleasant side effect to an ailment unto itself: “What is pain? … Pain is whatever the person experiencing the pain says it is,” advises a pleasant voice in an instructional video. It should be treated like the fifth vital sign, and not a symptom, clinicians were told in courses. This new, corporate-backed approach to pain management coincided with the advent in the mid-1990s of OxyContin, which the company claimed was a safe alternative to addictive opioids of the past.

An image from Alex Gibney’s documentary “The Crime of the Century.”(HBO)Others interviewed here include a former Purdue Pharma sales representative who worked in rural areas, including the Appalachian mountain region that’s been ravaged by the opioid crisis. His pitch included telling doctors there was “no dose too high and that patients can’t get addicted. They took all that fear of opioids away, then turned ’em loose,” he says.

Purdue and its formidable team of doctors and lawyers, Rudy Giuliani included, defended against the hundreds of thousands of overdoses and deaths related to OxyContin by claiming there were two kinds of users: patients who followed doctors’ orders and drug abusers.

Read more: Los Angeles Times »

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