The mega-rich family behind the OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma is back to selling its highly addictive pain killer with underhanded tactics and deceptive advertising—this time in China, via its international company, Mundipharma. That’s all according to a searing new investigation by the Associated Press.
The Sackler family, which owns both Purdue and Mundipharma, is embroiled in litigation in the United States over its alleged role in sparking the country’s epidemic of opioid abuse and overdoses.
Thousands of plaintiffs—many state and local governments—claim that Purdue and the Sacklers misled patients, doctors, and regulators on the addictiveness of their drugs, aggressively marketed them, and wooed doctors into over-prescribing them.
Based on documents and interviews with multiple Mundipharma representatives in China, the AP investigation found that reps were at times posing as doctors, providing debunked information that its long-acting opioids are safe and less addictive, and even illegally copying private medical records of patients to inform sales tactics.
When an AP reporter informed one of the Mundipharma reps that some of the marketing information was incorrect, she replied: “I’m shocked… Why after more than 10 years would they still do the same thing and go against the laws and regulations of society?”
In a response to the AP, Mundipharma said it promotes ethical behavior and legal compliance. It added: “We have detailed policies covering interactions with healthcare professionals, grants and donations, and sponsorships and incentives.”
The AP reported that China’s National Health Commission, National Medical Products Administration, State Administration for Market Regulation, and National Development and Reform Commission declined to comment. The Sackler family representatives did not respond to a request for comments.
Mundipharma, meanwhile, is still hiring in China.