Between the 1990s and 2011, prescriptions of oxycodone, an active ingredient in opioid drugs manufactured by Defendants and others, more than doubled in the United States. Department of Health and Human Services Fact Sheet, “[i]n 2014, more than 240 million prescriptions were written for prescription opioids, which is more than enough to give every American adult their own bottle of pills.”7.
During the same time period, opioid prescriptions increased some 31% from approximately 1.6 million to approximately 2.2 million. Defendants’ deceptive marketing efforts continued over the next several years, eventually triggering investigations by numerous state and federal entities.
By defining the class of individuals who should not receive opioids as only these abusers, Defendants gave doctors and consumers a false sense of security that they could safely prescribe opioids to patients they trusted. In persuading doctors that nearly all patients could safely receive opioids, Defendants expressly appealed to the doctors’ desire to alleviate their patients’ suffering.
Doctors were receptive to Defendants’ message because, after hearing about the scourge of untreated and undertreated pain, they needed a way to safely and effectively relieve that pain.
Purdue’s ADF opioids could not be crushed or snorted, which is false.b.
Purdue’s ADF opioids reduced opioid abuse and diversion, which is false.
Defendants continued to tell doctors and consumers that opioids could be taken in higher and higher doses without disclosing the ensuing risk to the patient.e.
Defendant Purdue Pharma continued to tell doctors and consumers that Oxy Contin provided 12 hours of relief when Purdue knew that, for many patients, it did not.14.At higher doses, opioids can slow the user’s breathing, causing potentially fatal respiratory depression.Most patients receiving more than a few weeks of opioid therapy will experience often prolonged withdrawal symptoms—including severe anxiety, nausea, headaches, tremors, delirium, and pain—if opioid use is delayed or discontinued.This was how Purdue explained away what doctors had previously believed about opioids: it was not that opioids were not addictive, but rather opioids would not addict patients under a doctor’s care. Purdue’s guilty plea seemed to have little effect on Purdue’s operations and marketing, or that of other Defendants.In the decade that followed, Defendants created and sustained a multi-billion dollar pain franchise through the same pattern of deceptive marketing. Defendants continued to tell doctors and consumers that patients receiving opioid prescriptions for pain generally would not become addicted, and that doctors could use screening tools to exclude patients who might.b.Defendants convinced prescribers and consumers that, even if opioids had some limited potential to be addictive, any risk of addiction could be managed by doctors carefully supervising their use by appropriate patients.