Dead bodies in all 50 states –
April 13, 2020 – A National Bureau of Economic Research working paper published last fall sheds light on Purdue’s role. The researchers, economists from the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Notre Dame and the RAND Corporation, looked at variations in prescribing regulations that led Purdue to market OxyContin more aggressively in some states than in others.
The study found that OxyContin distribution was nearly twice as high in states where regulations made it easier to market. Misuse of the drug was also higher in the more marketed states, both immediately after OxyContin’s introduction in 1996 and many years later.
The study relied on unsealed documents from settled lawsuits and investigations involving Purdue Pharma in Florida, West Virginia and Washington State. The documents, obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, included the company’s official OxyContin launch plan, focus group research and budgets from 1996-2002.
The documents showed that the company largely avoided marketing OxyContin in states with “triplicate prescription programs.” Prescribers of Schedule II opioids like OxyContin in those states were required to produce three copies of each prescription: one to be retained by them, one by the pharmacy, and one forwarded to a state agency. In addition to the extra paperwork and record keeping, the mandated reporting in triplicate programs raised concerns among prescribers about law enforcement scrutiny.