STAT CO. Used Donuts & Cartoons To Entice Doctors Into Oxycontin Drug Ring

Unsealed Documents Reveal Zealous OxyContin Marketing ‘Crusade’

Internal documents obtained by Stat show that Abbott heavily incentivized its sales staff to push OxyContin, borrowing language from the Middle Age crusades. Sales reps were called “royal crusaders” and “knights” in internal documents, and they were supervised by the “Royal Court of OxyContin.” The head of pain care sales, Jerry Eichhorn, was the “King of Pain.”

Stat: Secret Trove Reveals Abbott’s Bold ‘Crusade’ To Sell OxyContin
Abbott’s relationship with Purdue and its part in building the OxyContin brand are detailed in previously secret court filings unsealed by a Welch, W.Va., state court judge at the request of STAT. The records were part of a case brought by the state of West Virginia against Purdue and Abbott that alleged they inappropriately marketed the drug, causing users to become addicted to the opioid. The case was settled in 2004 when Purdue agreed to pay $10 million to the state. Neither company admitted any wrongdoing.The documents include internal Abbott and Purdue memos, as well as sales documents and marketing materials. They show that Abbott sales reps were instructed to downplay the threat of addiction with OxyContin and make other claims to doctors that had no scientific basis. The sales reps from the two companies closely coordinated their efforts, met regularly to strategize, and shared marketing materials. (Armstrong, 9/22)

Media outlets also report on the crisis out of New York, New Hampshire and Ohio —

The Associated Press: Schneiderman Says Bills Would Create Opioid Abuse Loopholes
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to veto two bills that he says would roll back efforts to fight prescription opioid abuse. Schneiderman, a Democrat, expressed his concerns in a letter to Cuomo’s legal counsel Tuesday. One of the bills would exempt nursing home doctors from rules requiring electronic filing of prescriptions. The other would alter existing rules governing controlled substance prescriptions to allow doctors, in certain cases, to not report the prescriptions directly to state health officials. (9/21)

New Hampshire Times Union: Manchester Addiction Recovery Center Due To Open In October 
Officials say Phase 1 of the city’s first addiction recovery center is on track to be operational at the former Hoitt furniture building on Wilson Street by late October…Last fall, Anagnost, Andy Crews, president and CEO of AutoFair and Melissa Crews, chairman of the board of directors of HOPE for NH Recovery, announced plans to purchase the building at 267 Wilson St., with the goal of putting multiple services for recovering addicts under one roof. The first floor of the 37,000-square-foot building will become the new home of HOPE for NH Recovery, which will occupy 9,158 square feet, leaving an additional 2,624 square feet on the first floor for additional occupants. (Feely, 9/21)

Columbus Dispatch: Lucas County Sheriff’s Program Helps Addicts At Their Lowest 
Hill is one of nearly 1,800 contacts that Lucas County Sheriff John Tharp’s Drug Abuse Response Team has made in the past 18 months with drug addicts — the majority of them in hospitals after they’ve suffered potentially fatal overdoses. In two-thirds of the cases, the addict subsequently got into a detox or long-term treatment program, or recovery housing. Lives were saved. No one knows exactly how many. Likewise, it’s not clear how many of the 1,800 got clean and stayed that way. (Johnson, 9/22)


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Christopher Kemmett

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