How OxyContin epidemic claimed 500,000 lives in United States

Purdue Pharma, controlled by the Sackler family, is believed to be responsible of more than 500,000 overdose deaths in twenty years, in US

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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How OxyContin epidemic claimed 500,000 lives in United States
© Spencer Platt / Staff Getty Images News

The opioid epidemic in the United States is a very worrying phenomenon that has had devastating consequences on public health and the social fabric of the country. One of the main culprits of this crisis was the drug OxyContin produced by Perdue Pharma.

The drug OxyContin was introduced to the market in 1995 as a powerful painkiller, promoted as a miracle solution for treating chronic pain. It contained extended-release oxycodone, an extremely potent and highly addictive substance.

Initially, the drug was intended to be used only in cases of extreme pain, such as that of terminally ill patients or cancer patients. However, its impact went far beyond these specific situations. For a few years, Perdue Pharma has marketed OxyContin by pushing doctors to increase prescriptions of the drug to treat a wide range of chronic pain, such as back pain and arthritis.

The company's aggressive marketing has contributed to overprescribing of the drug, pushing many patients to take high doses and develop addiction. Perdue Pharma has engaged in intense advertising campaigns aimed at physicians, providing misleading information about OxyContin addiction.

For example, the company claimed that the extended-release formulation made the drug less likely to be addictive than immediate-release opioids, a claim that turned out to be completely unfounded.

How OxyContin epidemic claimed 500,000 lives in United States

The result of this marketing strategy was an exponential increase in OxyContin prescriptions in the United States.

As a result, many people became addicted to this substance, seeking it illegally on the black market when legal prescriptions were no longer available. OxyContin addiction has had profound repercussions on American society.

Rates of fatal overdoses have increased, people have lost their lives, and entire communities have been destroyed. In many cases, people who became addicted to OxyContin later sought other opioid substances, such as heroin, when they could no longer access the drug.

Perdue Pharma has been accused of helping to create the opioid epidemic in the United States, accused of tampering with data and of misinforming doctors and patients about the real possibility of addiction to OxyContin. In 2020, he reached a deal with the US Department of Justice to pay a billion-dollar fine for his actions.

Between 2022 and 2023, Purdue Pharma, controlled by the Sackler family, is believed to be responsible for aggressively promoting the painkiller OxyContin, sparking the opioid crisis that has led to more than 500,000 overdose deaths in the United States in twenty years.

The opioid epidemic in the United States has been a large-scale tragedy, with millions of people affected and many lives lost. Perdue Pharma's OxyContin played a significant role in this crisis due to its addictive power and mismanagement of its marketing.

It is vital that governments and regulatory agencies learn from this experience to prevent similar situations from recurring in the future.