Purdue Pharma Records Speak for Themselves

The marching orders for Purdue Pharma’s 87 Tennessee opioid marketers from their bosses each day were simple: “Sell hope in a bottle” and “always be closing,” newly revealed internal records show. A lawsuit unsealed this week in Knox County Circuit Court filed on behalf of Tennessee taxpayers accuses Purdue Pharma — a family-owned firm that has turned OxyContin into a Forbes-rating fortune — of intentionally fueling the opioid epidemic that has claimed thousands of lives.

The lawsuit, filed by Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III, uses Purdue’s own company records and its staffers’ own words to show the firm’s founders and executives pushed medical providers to prescribe increasingly high doses of OxyContin for longer periods — even after Purdue promised the state it would stop. It lays bare a marketing campaign that was highly regimented and highly profitable, built upon a foundation of lies and trickery, and specifically targeted Tennessee’s most vulnerable medical providers and patients, including the elderly and veterans.

“Purdue summarized the marketing for its opioid products with the tagline, ‘We sell hope in a bottle’ in one of the company’s hiring guides for incoming marketing employees,” the lawsuit revealed. Purdue employed as many as 87 sales representatives in Tennessee for the past decade. None were medical professionals. All, though, were aggressive marketers — trained, records show, to treat the deadly opioid like real estate.

“Purdue trained its sales representatives to be aggressive in sales calls with providers,” the lawsuit stated. “Tennessee sales representatives were expressly trained to ‘ABC,’ — ‘Always be closing’ — a well-known phrase from 'Glengarry Glen Ross,' a play and movie about highly aggressive salesmen who use deceptive tactics to sell undesirable real estate at inflated prices.” Purdue told its sales staffers to target medical providers who were overworked, serving poor communities in Tennessee and had less training, calling them “high value prescribers” who could be easily persuaded to increase prescriptions and dosages of OxyContin.

Purdue Pharma released a statement Friday saying, “We share the Attorney General’s concern about the opioid crisis. We are disappointed, however, that in the midst of good faith negotiations with many states, Tennessee has decided to pursue a costly and protracted litigation process. While our opioid medicines account for less than 2 percent of total prescriptions, we will continue to work collaboratively with the states toward bringing meaningful solutions to address this public health challenge."

Reference: http://clarksvillenow.com/local/unsealed-lawsuit-opioid-firm-placed-profits-over-people/
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