A company owned by the Sackler family – widely blamed as one of the key initial drivers of the opioid epidemic – continues to rake in sales from overdoses overseas, although a representative said the firm does not profit from those sales. Is.
The Sackler family, best known for their ownership of OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, also owns the international pharmaceutical company MundiPharma. The firm also markets its overdose antidote, a naloxone nasal spray called Nyxoid, overseas.
“You’re in the business of selling a drug that causes addiction and overdose, and now you’re in the business of selling a drug that treats addiction and overdose?” Dr. Andrew Kolodny, an outspoken critic of Purdue, told The Associated Press in 2019. “It’s very clever, isn’t it?”
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A spokesperson for MundiPharma emphasized that the company is not active in the US market.
“MundiPharma distributes Nyxoid in several countries, outside the US,” a spokesperson told Fox News. “There is no profit to be made from such a sale.”
The spokesperson also told Fox News that it is “publicly known that our shareholders intend to sell MundiPharma within seven years of the Purdue bankruptcy plan taking effect”. “We have no further information or details to share regarding any such sale at this time.”
Meanwhile, in 2019, a spokesperson for MundiPharma Europe told the AP that given the dismal rate of overdose deaths, overdose reversal drugs delivered as a nasal spray are important.
“If they were trying to find a solution, they would distribute naloxone for free,” Stephen Wood, a fellow at the Harvard Medical School Center for Bioethics, told the AP. “They can use all that money that they made from opioids to help support a program where they’re giving away this life-saving drug.”
OxyContin’s profits helped make the Sacklers one of the richest families in the world. But in recent years, Purdue and its private owners have faced lawsuits accusing them of running an aggressive and deceptive marketing campaign, pushing OxyContin prescriptions while downplaying the drug’s addiction.
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A common story unfolded: An OxyContin user would form an addiction, then turn to heroin when the prescription drug became too expensive or difficult to obtain illegally.
In some cases, they were legitimate patients who followed prescription guidelines while others began taking OxyContin more frequently when they began to lose its effects. Some took the drug illegally while experimenting in their youth, often from a family member’s medicine cabinet, without understanding its addictive nature.
The lawsuits against Purdue and Sackler allege that internal documents indicate the company’s objective was to profit from the addiction. According to the plaintiffs, one said Purdue could become an “end-to-end provider” by providing both opioids and addiction treatment, the AP reported.
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Sackler family representatives at the time said that a third party submitted the plan and it was discarded after a few passing mentions. A MundiPharma spokesperson dismissed any connection between the international Nyxoid push and any Purdue plans for naloxone.
Opioid overdoses have been on the rise since the ’90s, but the COVID-19 pandemic has taken hold. According to the National Institutes of Health, in 2021, there will be more than 80,000 overdose deaths—a nearly 60% increase from 2019.
The opioid epidemic has resulted in an overdose reversal drug becoming necessary, especially one that is as easy to use overseas as Nyxoid. In the US, naloxone has become synonymous with a similar nasal-spray product, Narcan.
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In Philadelphia, one of America’s most notorious open-air drug markets, fire departments and emergency medical services administered naloxone nearly 19,600 times between 2014 and 2019, according to city data, the most recent data available. Full year.
But medicine is not a catch-all solution.
“Once they get Narcan in their system, it puts them into immediate withdrawal,” Frank Rodriguez, a recovering addict, told Fox News. “They have to get high again to not feel like they’re dying.”
He said he always makes sure to have naloxone available whenever he drives into town.
“It saved my life,” he said, holding up the Narcan.
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Mundipharma has faced criticism for pushing Nyxoid after the company’s owners profited from opioids, despite the need for an easy-to-use overdose reversal drug.
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Bloomberg reported at the time that the Sackler family’s efforts to sell MundiPharma’s China unit for $1 billion in January 2022 had failed. There is no other public information indicating the sale of MundiPharma or any of its units.
Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family have been embroiled in several court cases in recent years. The pharmaceutical company pleaded guilty in 2007 and again in 2020 to charges of misbranding and fraud.
Purdue filed for bankruptcy in 2019, but legal proceedings continue. The company offered a $6 billion settlement, funded by Sackler, that would be paid to various victims of addiction, including states and hospitals. In exchange for that settlement, which is still under consideration, the family would be protected from future opioid lawsuits.
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