OPIOIDS to patients, on purpose documents show
A recently released trove of documents revealed that companies manufacturing opioids paid doctors to push these addictive drugs to patients. The Big Pharma firms incentivizing doctors for pushing the dangerous medicine had been concurrently happening with efforts to deflect media scrutiny on opioids.
The public release of the documents was the product of a 2021 collaboration between the University of California San Francisco and Johns Hopkins University. According to the two universities, the Opioid Industry Documents Archive (OIDA) “[sheds] light on the opioid industry during the height of the U.S. opioid crisis.” The archive also “preserves and provides permanent public access to previously-internal corporate documents released from opioid litigation and other sources.
One document in the archive centered on a 2013 email exchange between a spokeswoman for the American-Irish drug firm Covidien, which manufactures the opioid drug Exalgo, and other company executives. She had informed other executives about a reporter from New York-based channel WNBC 4 who was writing a story about the fees that pharmaceutical firms pay to physicians.
“Based on our conversation, I do not believe that the reporter is aware of Exalgo – and I am certainly not planning to make him aware,” wrote the spokeswoman.
A subsequent email in the thread saw the same spokeswoman ranting about inaccuracies in the story ran by WNBC 4. She wrote: “Despite my efforts to provide background to the reporter that doctors do not speak about generic drugs, he still made a connection between our generic Dilaudid [painkiller] and a New York doctor’s speaking fees. I purposely did not clarify that the doctor in question does speak around Exalgo, because I did not want the product mentioned in [the] story or beg any deeper inquiries into his Exalgo prescribing habits.”