Pharmaceutical companies are in the hot seat right now for having prioritized profit over proper healthcare, helping to created the current opioid crisis. One company seen as bearing a great deal of the responsibility is Purdue Pharma, creator of the highly addictive painkiller OxyContin. In 2007, Purdue faced criminal charges for misleading doctors and regulators on the addiction risk for the highly concentrated drug, and they paid $835 million in fines — a small fraction of the $35 billion they made on the drug, according to New York Magazine.
Now, Purdue Pharma is trying to capitalize on the other end of the opioid epidemic—the distribution of drugs meant to help people get off painkillers like OxyContin.
Former chairman of Purdue Pharma, Richard Sackler, whose family owns the private drug company, has patented a new treatment drug that could help opioid addicts recover. The drug would help control drug cravings, allowing those who are addicted to slowly wean off the drug. Forms of the drug are already being used to treat heroin and opioid abuse.
Sackler’s patent, issued in January 2019, reads: “While opioids have always been known to be useful in pain treatment, they also display an addictive potential. Thus, if opioids are taken by healthy human subjects with a drug-seeking behavior they may lead to psychological as well as physical dependence.”
The patent language continues: “There remains a need for other…abuse-resistant dosage forms,” the text of the patent continues.
According to the Financial Times, the patent text includes no comment on the involvement of how Purdue Pharma helped to create and spread the widely-abused drug.