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.
Once doctors grabbed onto Defendants’ narrative, the consequence that doctors stopped worrying about signs of addiction or prescribing too high doses followed. In 2007, Purdue and three of its executives pled guilty to federal charges for misleading doctors, patients, and regulators about the risk of addiction and Oxy Contin’s potential to be abused.
As Purdue developed Oxy Contin in the mid-1990s, it knew that to expand its market and profits, it needed to change the perception of opioids to permit and encourage the use of opioids long-term for widespread chronic conditions, like back pain, migraines, and arthritis.
Purdue, together with the other Defendants, helped cultivate a narrative that pain was undertreated and that pain treatment should be a higher priority for health care providers.
However, rather than reforming its opioid marketing to comply with the law, Purdue continued to mislead and obfuscate, as did the other Defendants. To this day, Defendants have failed to correct their earlier misrepresentations, and, in many respects, persist in the same types of misconduct. Defendants spent hundreds of millions of dollars on promotional activities and materials that continued to falsely deny or trivialize the risk of addiction and overstated the benefits of opioids.