Richard Sackler, the billionaire pharma executive who helped fuel the opioid crisis now owns patented a new drug that helps treat opioid addiction.
The Financial Times reports that the drug is a reformulation of buprenorphine, a “milder opioid that can blunt the symptoms of withdrawal while a person is being weaned off.”
Variations of the same drug are already generating $900 million in U.S. sales for Sackler’s competitors.
The Sackler family owns Purdue Pharma, the first RX company to develop the highly addicting drug OxyContin. It’s this drug that has been largely blamed for the opioid crisis in America.
Purdue Pharma made millions by selling OxyContin and it’s now set to profit off the cure for an addiction they manufactured.
Purdue is issuing the new treatment at a time when the company is facing numerous lawsuits by prosecutors in various states, Raw Story reports. The lawsuits largely claim that Purdue was well aware of the risk of addiction and overdose and downplayed the effects of the drugs with doctors.
It’s estimated that 12% of patients who are prescribed opioids develop an addiction to the drugs. Six percent of addicts end up trying heroin as a replacement drug, the Raw Story report notes.
Opioids, because of their efficacy in fighting the painful effects of major surgery, are not expected to disappear but lawmakers are fighting to slow the number of prescriptions being handed out by doctors. 115 people per day are now dying of opioid overdoses.
Part of the problem is the massive opioid fraud that is being committed by RX companies. Vox reported that “between 2006 and 2016, out-of-state drug companies shipped nearly 21 million opioid painkillers to two pharmacies in Williamson, West Virginia, population 2,900.”
It’s definitely a positive that treatments are being made readily available but it leaves a sour taste in the mouth that the company largely responsible for the crisis is now set to profit off the misery they have caused for millions of opioid addicts and their families.