Medicine

Son of Purdue Pharma owner wins patent for opioid dependence treatment

Son of Purdue Pharma owner wins patent for opioid dependence treatment

Purdue Pharma made millions by selling OxyContin and it's now set to profit off the cure for an addiction they manufactured.

Buprenorphin is already approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in its tablet and film forms.

The patent on the new buprenorphin was issued in January.

Sackler's family also happens to own Purdue Pharma, the company that first developed OxyContin - a powerful narcotic painkiller that has been blamed for spurring the epidemic of opioid addiction that has decimated communities all across America. Critics told the FT that they were disturbed that the patent could enable Sackler to benefit financially from the addiction crisis that his family's company is accused of fueling.

The faster dissolve time is supposed to decrease the likelihood of diversion (or, the risk that the wafer form of buprenorphin will itself be abused by addicts), according to the patent.

Purdue, one of several drug companies that made a decades-long push for liberal prescription of opioids, is now facing a mountain of lawsuits.

This new patent is a variation on buprenorphine, which is a mild opiate that helps control drug cravings. He formerly served as the president of Purdue, and his father is one of three brothers who founded the company.

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In addition to the more than 1,000 lawsuits against Purdue from cities, state, counties, and tribes - most of which have been consolidated in an OH federal court - a case brought by MA recently named the Sackler family as defendants.

Purdue declined STAT's request to comment on the patent.

The CDC doesn't yet have data on the number of deaths from opioid overdose for 2017, but the government agency reported that 2016 recorded 42,000 deaths from the national epidemic, which is more opioid overdose deaths than any other year on record. Opioids remain a necessary tool to treat severe pain from surgery, cancer, and other serious conditions, but they must be used judiciously, and alternative therapies must be made available - particularly in lower-income rural areas where people are at higher risk.

Sackler was deposed as part of a lawsuit that was settled in 2015, regarding the company's marketing of the highly addictive OcyContin, and what the company knew about its addictive properties during that time.

Separately, Purdue has been trying to show it is taking steps to address the addiction crisis.

Earlier this week, the $13 billion dollar company donated $3.4 million to boost access to an antidote for people who have overdosed on opioids.


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