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You are here: English BoingBoing ibag Leaks reveal how the "Pitbull of PR" helped Purdue Pharma and the Sacklers ignite the opioid crisis

Leaks reveal how the "Pitbull of PR" helped Purdue Pharma and the Sacklers ignite the opioid crisis

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Propublica has obtained a tranche of leaked internal communications between the Sackler family's Purdue Pharma, makers of the lethal opioid Oxycontin, and Dezenhall Resources, known as "The Pitbull of Public Relations," whose previous client roster includes Enron CEO Jeff Skilling, Exxon and other "beleaguered corporations," who masterminded a "blame the victim" strategy that apportioned responsibility for Oxycontin's mounting death toll on the people who became addicted to it -- not the Sacklers and Purdue, who falsified science, bribed doctors, and made billions from an epidemic that has now claimed more American lives than the Vietnam War. The leaks reveal how Dezenhall took credit for the work of psychiatrist Sally Satel, a "resident scholar" at the American Enterprise Institute, the DC thinktank notorious for its advocacy for the tobacco industry, against Net Neutrality, against Dodd-Frank, against a national minimum wage, and in favor of climate denial and the Iraq invasion. Satel penned a series of editorials and gave numerous media appearances that furthered the "blame the victim" narrative for the opioid epidemic, drawing on research funded by the Sacklers and Purdue, which ran under headlines like "Oxy Morons" (WSJ) and "OxyContin doesn’t cause addiction. Its abusers are already addicts" (Forbes). Purdue were $50,000/year funders of AEI, something that Satel says she didn't know about (she also says that she didn't know that the research she cited in her articles was funded by Purdue). Behind the scenes, the leaks show that Purdue and Dezenhall were intimately involved with Satel's work, with Dezenhall taking credit for briefing her, getting her articles published, and suppressing negative responses (Dezenhall also masterminded a campaign to get prominent retractions for critical articles about Purdue and Oxycontin, then followed up with a PR campaign that leveraged the retractions to generate press that expressed doubt about the risks of opioids). Read the rest

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