Pharma companies should be held accountable for opioid epidemic, Rep. Keller says

Pharma companies should be held accountable for opioid epidemic, Rep. Keller says

U.S. Rep. Fred Keller (R-PA) stressed the importance of holding companies like Purdue Pharma, and the Sackler family that owns it, accountable for their part in the opioid epidemic.

While participating in the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s hearing on the role Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family played in the opioid epidemic, Keller said that Purdue’s continual downplaying of the addictiveness of drugs like OxyContin (which Purdue makes) worsened America’s opioid epidemic.

“Starting in 1996, Purdue Pharma and the Sackler Family marketed OxyContin—a drug at the forefront of our nation’s opioid epidemic—as having much lower addiction risk to patients, which sharply contrasts with the reality that this drug has cost lives and torn families apart,” Keller said at the hearing.

Keller asked Dr. Craig Landau, president and CEO of Purdue Pharma, what the company was doing to educate patients and providers about overprescribing opioids.

“We are supporting a tremendous amount of education through third party resources to bring to the surface important information relating to the prescription of opioids—their safe storage and disposal—and the consequences of addiction with an emphasis on school children to prevent them from initial exposure which can have devastating consequences,” Dr. Landau said.

Landau recommended training for prescribing opioids should be mandatory.

“I would also suggest that efforts be made to require that all the medicines within this class—controlled release and immediate release opioids—have barriers introduced to make them less attractive as drugs of abuse. Addiction is a tougher issue. It’s a complex medical condition with various contributing factors. I think education of physicians and access to healthcare are vital,” Landau said.