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Purdue's court filings understate its role in the opioid epidemic by 80%

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Purdue Pharma (and its richer-than-the-Rockefellers owners, the Sackler family are increasingly being dragged into state courts to account for their role in the opioid epidemic, which has claimed more American lives than the Vietnam War. The cornerstone of the Purdue/Sackler defense is to insist that the company -- manufacturer of Oxycontin -- was only a bit-player in the epidemic, and therefore it's unfair to hold them to account for the actions of their rivals who were the real villains of the crisis. To this end, Purdue has repeatedly cited its analysis of FDA data that showed that the company only accounted for 3.3% of all opioid sales during the period. However, a new analysis of the same data set, performed by Propublica and Stat (building on more limited work from the Washington Post), shows how Purdue massaged the data to produce a wildly misleading picture of its role in the epidemic. The trick works like this: Purdue's analysis treats all opioids as being equivalent to its deadly widowmaker, Oxycontin. Thus, a 5mg Percocet is treated as equivalent to an 80mg Oxy (Propublica: "It’s analogous to measuring alcohol sales by equating a 12-ounce glass of 100 proof whiskey with a similar-sized can of light beer"). When the data are reanalyzed with the doses taken into account, Purdue's contribution quintuples to more than 16%, and Purdue becomes the nation's third-largest peddler of opioids during the crisis. What's more, these figures are even worse for Purdue in some states: for example, Purdue told a judge in Massachusetts that it sold 4.6% of the opioids in the state. Read the rest

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