March 28, 2019

Senators Whitehouse, Markey, Manchin: Purdue Should Commit in Writing to Make No Profit on Potential New Drug to Reverse Opioid Overdoses

Opioid crisis fueled by proliferation of Purdue’s OxyContin claimed more than 47,000 lives in 2017

Washington, D.C. – Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) today sent a letter to Purdue Pharma, manufacturer and marketer of the addictive painkiller OxyContin, in response to a media report concerning the company’s bankruptcy consideration.  In the story, Purdue claimed that it was in the process of developing and seeking Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for a version of nalmefene hydrochloride — a more powerful overdose reversal medication than naloxone — on a pro bono basis, to combat opioid overdoses.  Purdue’s CEO stated: “We’re not looking to make money, nor do we intend to profit in any way from the development and availability of this hopefully lifesaving treatment.”  The Senators’ letter asks Purdue to will take concrete, transparent, and publicly accountable steps to ensure that the company does not make a profit from it.

“Through Purdue’s manufacture and marketing of the painkiller OxyContin, your company has played a leading role in, and bears significant responsibility for, the opioid epidemic that claimed more than 47,000 lives in 2017,” write the Senators in the letter to Purdue CEO Dr. Craig Landau.  “While the development of a more powerful overdose reversal medication is welcome, we would like a more concrete commitment from Purdue on your intention not to gain a profit. Indeed, it is a maxim of the common law in this country that no one should be allowed to profit from his own wrongdoing.”

Specifically, the Senators requested that Purdue should commit in writing to a plan of action that establishes transparency in accounting for the new drug’s costs and sales, as well as how the company will guarantee that any profits from the drug will benefit the public and not Purdue.

A copy of the letter can be found HERE

Whitehouse is a national leader in combatting the opioid crisis.  Along with Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Whitehouse co-authored the landmark bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), sweeping legislation guiding the federal response to the opioid epidemic that was signed into law in 2016.


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