A company owned by the Sackler family — widely accused of being one of the main original drivers of the opioid epidemic — continues to make overseas overdose sales, although a representative said the company is not benefiting from those sales.
The Sackler family, best known for owning the OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma, also owns international pharmaceutical company Mundipharma. The company sells its overdose antidote, a naloxone nasal spray called Nyxoid, overseas.
“You’re in the business of selling drugs that cause addiction and overdoses, and now you’re selling drugs that treat addiction and overdoses?” dr Andrew Kolodny, an outspoken Purdue critic, said the Associated Press in 2019. “That’s pretty clever, isn’t it?”
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A Mundipharma spokesman emphasized that the company is not active in the US market.
“Mundipharma distributes Nyxoid in several countries outside of the United States,” the rep told Fox News. “It makes no profit from such sales.”
The spokesman also told Fox News it is “public knowledge that our shareholders intend to sell Mundipharma within seven years.” a Purdue bankruptcy plan be effective. “We do not currently have any further information or details of any such sale.”
In 2019, a spokesman for Mundipharma Europe told the AP that overdose-reversal drugs, given as a nasal spray, were important given the dismal overdose death rate.
“If they were trying to find a solution, they would just give out naloxone for free,” Stephen Wood, a fellow at Harvard Medical School’s Center for Bioethics, told AP. “They could use all the money they’ve made off opioids to support a program where they’re giving away this life-saving drug.”
OxyContin’s profits helped make the Sacklers one of the wealthiest families in the world. But in recent years, Purdue and its private owners have faced lawsuits alleging they conducted an aggressive and deceptive marketing campaign that promoted OxyContin prescriptions while downplaying the drug’s addictiveness.
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A common story emerged: An OxyContin user developed an addiction, then turned to heroin once the prescription drug became too expensive or difficult to obtain illegally.
In some cases, these were serious patients who followed the prescription’s guidelines, while others started taking OxyContin more often when they felt its effects were wearing off. Some took the drug illegally while experimenting in their youth, often from a family member’s medicine cabinet, without understanding its addictive nature.
Lawsuits against Purdue and the Sacklers allege that internal documents indicate the company wanted to profit from the addiction. According to the plaintiffs, one stated that Purdue could become an “end-to-end provider” by offering both opioids and addiction treatments, the AP reported.
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Sackler family officials said at the time that a third party presented the plan and, after a few passing mentions, gave up. The Mundipharma spokesman denied any link between Nyxoid’s international push and Purdue’s plans for naloxone.
Opioid overdoses have been on the rise since the ’90s, but when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, there was a significant increase. In 2021, there were over 80,000 overdose deaths — up about 60% from 2019, according to the National Institutes of Health.
As a result of the opioid epidemic, there was a need for an overdose-reversal drug, especially one that, like Nyxoid, is easy to use overseas. In the US, naloxone has become synonymous with a similar nasal spray, Narcan.
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In Philadelphia, home of one of America’s most notorious open-air drug markets, fire and emergency services administered naloxone nearly 19,600 times between 2014 and 2019, the most recent full year with available data. according to the city.
But the drug is not a catch-all solution.
“Once they have narcan in their system, it puts them into immediate withdrawal,” Frank Rodriguez, a recovering addict, told Fox News. “You have to get high again to not feel like you’re dying.”
He said he always makes sure he has naloxone available when he goes into town.
“That saved my life,” he said, holding up Narcan.
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Notwithstanding the need for an easy-to-use drug to reverse an overdose, Mundipharma has been criticized for ousting Nyxoid after the company’s owners capitalized on opioids.
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Efforts by the Sackler family to sell Mundipharma’s China unit for $1 billion fell through in January 2022. Bloomberg reports at that time. There has been no other public reporting to indicate that Mundipharma or any of its entities have been sold.
Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family have been embroiled in a litany of lawsuits in recent years. The pharmaceutical company pleaded guilty to charges of trademark abuse and fraud in 2007 and again in 2020.
Purdue filed for bankruptcy in 2019, but a court case is pending. The company offered a $6 billion Sacklers-funded settlement to be paid to various addict victims, including states and hospitals. In exchange for this settlement, which is still under consideration, the family would be protected from future opioid lawsuits.
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