The maker of Oxycontin has said that they’ll no longer market their opioids directly to doctors. Ring of Fire’s Mike Papantonio and attorney Peter Mougey discuss this issue.
Mike Papantonio: The maker of Oxycontin has said that they’ll no longer market their opioids directly to doctors. This move isn’t because they finally developed a conscience, I can promise you. It’s because of the massive lawsuits that they’re now facing for pushing these highly addictive drugs all over this country, knowing exactly how dangerous their conduct was. Peter, you are one of the leaders in this national case that’s been filed in Cleveland.
Peter Mougey: Right.
Mike Papantonio: There’s a handful of lawyers who have been picked to oversee that litigation. You’re one of them, and one of our partners, Troy Rafferty, is the other one. As I look at this story, it’s almost as if we have them now trying to fall on their sword. From 2000 … 1997, they’ve understood exactly how addictive this product was. They went out and tried to phony up a bunch of information to give to doctors to say it wasn’t, and now they’re falling on their sword. Is it going to work?
Peter Mougey: Oh, I hope people see through it. I mean, you’ve got the Purdue, which makes Oxycontin in 2007, three of their executives agreed to criminal charges, and now they’re coming back. That’s 10 years later. I mean, in that 10-year period of time, you’ve got almost five, six hundred thousand deaths attributable to Oxycontin and another host of opiates, and now they’re saying, “We’re not going to market them.” I mean, doesn’t that beg the question, why in the world were they marketing them in the first place?
Mike Papantonio: Okay-
Peter Mougey: Why are you marketing these-
Mike Papantonio: First of all, it wasn’t even necessary.
Peter Mougey: No.
Mike Papantonio: The drug- Let me put it in perspective, okay? First of all, these opiates at this level were designed for end of life-
Peter Mougey: Right.
Mike Papantonio: -in critically care cancer cases, post surgery for three days, and that was it. But they couldn’t make enough money, so they then start going out and they say, “Well, we’re gonna market for all kinds of reasons. You got a sprained ankle? Give you 70 Oxycontin.” Now, people want to say, “Well, that’s the doctor.” No, it’s not the doctor entirely. When you find out what these companies did, they actually went out and created phonied up literature. They had phonied up people that … They’re called what? The key people, key public-
Peter Mougey: Opinion leaders.
Mike Papantonio: -opinion leaders. Key opinion leaders, okay, that go to these universities. They’d say, “Hey, doc. How would you like to make $100,000 going and telling doctors that Oxycontin is not-”
Peter Mougey: Educating them.
Mike Papantonio: Yeah, educating the doctors that opioids aren’t addictive? So, then they phony up a bunch of literature. Then, they have their sales people in the field that are only supposed to be using this, selling this, for the very narrow use and they start using it for everything.
Peter Mougey: Absolutely. The thought that they’re out marketing it. In 2010, they released a new delivery mechanism that it was harder to crush. So many people had problems that they were crushing it and snorting it, and then melting it down and injecting it, and at that same time, they’re marketing it. Why in the world? This is a step in the … It’s scary, or sad, really. It’s sad that they’re out putting the bottom line first and-
Mike Papantonio: Well, the problem is you’ve got the idiotic media that’s gonna go, “Oh, yeah, well look what they’re trying to do.” These are criminals. These are criminals dressed up in three-piece suits. They’re no different than El Chapo and every other drug lord that we’ve seen in the news.
Peter Mougey: Before you go to a topic, what I think is really kind of an important part of the story that you never hear on the main stream media is this, that the deaths have been escalating every year for about 15 years. We are at the highest cause of death in 25-40 year olds is opiates. And when I first started working on these cases in late 2016, early 2017, these stories weren’t the front page of the National Press. The reason why Purdue is taking these kind of steps is because trial lawyers around the country started talking to their cities and counties and filing cases. Only when the trial lawyers file cases are you seeing steps like Purdue refusing to market, or taking it off the-
Mike Papantonio: Yeah, this is a nothing – Let me close this segment with this. These companies make an 80 mg Oxycontin. Now let me tell you what that means. 80 mg opioids. That is the equivalent of 24 Vicodin. One pill equal 24 Vicodin. Now, these detailers, these sales people were out there assuring doctors that people can take two of those a day. But let me tell you what it’s really about. They found out that the 80 mg opioid was actually they’re best street drug.
Peter Mougey: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Mike Papantonio: That’s what they found out. So we’ve asked them, you’ve asked them through committee, say, “Look, show us some good faith. Take the 80 mg off the street.” They haven’t done it.
Peter Mougey: They still have not.
Mike Papantonio: We’ve asked them-
Peter Mougey: Should have been the first thing they did.
Mike Papantonio: -would you please send letters around to doctors and reeducate them about the lies that you told? They won’t do it. Would you please change your warning in a big black box and post it all over all of the areas where this stuff is prescribed? They won’t do it. They’re still in the money business. Don’t believe any of this falling on their sword stuff.