OxyContin Marketed in China as Being Less Addictive — A Familiar Misleading Claim

By Erika Kinetz | November 21, 2019

Thousands of lawsuits across the United States have accused a drug company owned by the billionaire Sackler family of using false claims to push highly addictive opioids on an unsuspecting nation, fueling the deadliest drug epidemic in U.S. history.

Yet, even as its U.S. drugmaker collapses under the charges, another company owned by the family has used the same tactics to peddle its signature painkiller, OxyContin, in China, according to interviews with current and former employees and documents obtained by the Associated Press.

The documents and interviews indicate that representatives from the Sacklers’ Chinese affiliate, Mundipharma, tell doctors that time-release painkillers like OxyContin are less addictive than other opioids – the same pitch that Purdue Pharma, the U.S. company owned by the family, admitted was false in court more than a decade ago.

Editor’s Note: The Associated Press, supported by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, is investigating the global spread of opioids and its consequences.

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