Posted by on January 17, 2019 3:33 pm
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Categories: Congress, Senate, House Health and Healthcare

Journalist Mark Levy on Twitter has the big get concerning the congressman from Pennsylvania’s fifth congressional district.

Marino’s self-withdrawal (ironic word, huh?) as drug czar in 2017 was covered in depth by NPR, following a blockbuster bit of journalism by the Washington Post and CBS’ 60 Minutes that revealed Marino to be behind a drug-industry-backed effort to pass a law that weakened the DEA’s ability to crack down on addictive opioids and keep them off the black market. Marino’s machinations had the fingerprints of lobbying heavyweight PhRMA all over them. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that Marino’s abrupt departure may be tied to a lawsuit — and growing scandal — surrounding the easy propagation of highly addictive opioids, including Purdue Pharmaceuticals’ Oxycontin.

Members of the Sackler family, which owns the company that makes OxyContin, directed years of efforts to mislead doctors and patients about the dangers of the powerful opioid painkiller, a court filing citing previously undisclosed documents contends.

When evidence of growing abuse of the drug became clear in the early 2000s, one of them, Richard Sackler, advised pushing blame onto people who had become addicted. …

[L]ast June, Maura Healey, the Massachusetts attorney general, sued eight members of the Sackler family, along with the company and numerous executives and directors, alleging that they had misled doctors and patients about OxyContin’s risks. The suit also claimed that the company aggressively promoted the drug to doctors who were big prescribers of opioids, including physicians who later lost their licenses.

The court filing released on Tuesday also asserts that Sackler family members were aware that Purdue Pharma repeatedly failed to alert authorities to scores of reports the company had received that OxyContin was being abused and sold on the street. The company also used pharmacy discount cards to increase OxyContin’s sales and Richard Sackler, who served as Purdue Pharma’s president from 1999 to 2003, led a company strategy of blaming abuse of the drug on addicts, the suit claimed.

If you are skeptical that this is a mere coincidence, you are not alone. Developing.