Health: A Congressional Hearing on the Opioid Epidemic

The Story:

The Oversight Committee of the US House of Representatives took testimony on the epidemic of opioid abuse and addiction last week: it heard on Thursday (December 17) from David and Kathe Sackler, two members of the Sackler family that created Purdue Pharma in the 1980s. Both David and Kathe (cousins) have served on the board at Purdue.

At the hearing, David Sackler said, “We [Sacklers] fully acknowledge that there is an opioid crisis that has ruined too many lives, and that OxyContin addiction and abuse played a role in that. We are truly sorry to everyone who’s lost a family member or suffered from the scourge of addiction.”

Significance:

In October of this year, Purdue Pharma, a company by then under bankruptcy court protection, settled with the US Department of Justice over its aggressive marketing of drugs (opioids) with a high potential for addiction, since its introduction of OxyContin, an extended-release formulation of oxycodone, in 1995. OxyContin, and other Purdue products, are often cited in connected with overdose deaths.

In Pill Form:

James Comer, the ranking Republican on the committee, affirmed his pro-business sentiments during the hearing. But, he added, “there are bad actors. And to the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma, let me be as clear as I can be: You all are bad actors. And there is no excuse for what you did.”

 

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