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Image of the Virginia AG Seal

Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

202 North Ninth Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219

 

For media inquiries only, contact:  
Charlotte Gomer, Press Secretary
Phone: (804)786-1022 
Mobile: (804) 512-2552
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

UNREDACTED COMPLAINT SHEDS LIGHT ON SHEER VOLUME OF PRESCRIPTION OPIOIDS PURDUE PHARMA PUSHED INTO VIRGINIA

~ Between 2008 and 2017, Purdue pushed nearly 150 million prescription opioid pills and patches into Virginia communities ~

 

 

RICHMOND (September 5, 2018) – Newly unsealed data shows that Purdue Pharma pushed nearly 150 million opioid pills and patches into the Commonwealth of Virginia between 2008 and 2017, through their rigorous marketing and sales programs, filling nearly 2.2 million opioid prescriptions. The scale of Purdue’s opioid promotion was revealed in a newly unredacted complaint in Attorney General Mark Herring’s lawsuit against the company for its role in creating and perpetuating the opioid crisis.

 

“Purdue Pharma built an empire profiting off of pain and addiction in Virginia by pushing an astounding 150 million prescription opioids into our communities, which, in most years, meant that twice as many drugs were pushed into Virginia as there were people,” said Attorney General Herring. “So often, addiction begins at home in the medicine cabinet, but Purdue ignored its responsibilities and, instead, boosted its sales and marketing programs to increase numbers. I filed suit against Purdue because they must be held accountable for the role that they played in creating this devastating opioid epidemic and the ways they actively prolonged it, long after the terrible effects were evident.”

 

Between 2008 and 2017, Purdue promoted and sold an estimated $18.7 billion in opioids resulting in 2,157,959 prescriptions filled in Virginia and 149,658,236 pills and patches making their way into communities across the Commonwealth. In the majority of this ten-year period, the number of pills and patches was nearly double the population of the state. Additionally, the Complaint details the lies Purdue Pharma told about the dangers of their drugs and further explains their extensive sales program that incentivized sales reps to push as many opioid prescriptions as they could on health care providers.

 

According to the unredacted Complaint, Purdue went to great lengths to misrepresent the addictiveness of their drugs and, as a result of their zealous promotion and sales tactics, pushed nearly 150 million prescription opioid pills and patches into Virginia communities.

 

  • From 2007 to 2017, Purdue employed approximately 86 sales representatives in Virginia, whose job was to visit health care providers and convince them to prescribe their drugs to patients.
  • According to notes kept by sales representatives regarding their visits to healthcare providers, 229,011 calls were made to healthcare providers between 2006 and 2017
  • In Tazewell County, a county with a population of only 43,000, Purdue made 1,359 sales calls between 2008 and 2017.
  • Sales reps were incentivized to make routine visits to healthcare providers who were high-volume prescribers of Purdue’s opioid products, regardless of whether those providers were prescribing the drugs inappropriately.

 

Purdue also had an Incentive Bonus Program that deterred sales reps from reporting overprescribing healthcare providers. “If a Purdue sales representative reported a suspicious provider, that sales representative did so at the risk of removing sales attributable to that provider from the representative’s bonus calculations.” The company structured their bonuses to focus on healthcare providers who prescribed the most drugs, which it termed “core” and “super core” prescribers. Purdue also created a points system that allocated bonuses and rewarded sales reps who had “the highest percentage of total sales calls with ‘super core’ or ‘core’ prescribers.” All of these incentives programs created a sales culture of getting as many drugs as possible into the hands of healthcare providers who would, in turn, prescribe them in great numbers.

 

Below is breakdown of how many prescriptions were filled and pills and patches were distributed between 2008 and 2017:

 

Prescriptions

2008 - 157,568

2009 - 197,665

2010 - 222,916

2011 - 242,699

2012 - 248,957

2013 - 252,123

2014 - 248,415

2015 - 244,821

2016 - 217,990

2017 - 124,805

 

Units (Pills and Patches)

2008 - 11,752,188

2009 - 14,654,449

2010 - 16,417,297

2011 - 17,264,122

2012 - 17,270,259

2013 - 17,257,184

2014 - 16,684,715

2015 - 15,963,732

2016 - 14,316,532

2017 - 8,077,758

 

Because of a preexisting Confidentiality Agreement between the Parties, the Commonwealth redacted certain portions of the Complaint for public viewing, and filed an unredacted, sealed Complaint with the Court. Since the original filing, the parties have discussed confidentiality issues and agreed to unseal the unredacted Complaint and make it public.

 

Attorney General Herring sued Purdue Pharma back in June accusing them of profiting from an opioid crisis that it helped create and prolong through a decades-long campaign of lies and misrepresentations in violation of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. Since 2007, 8,000 Virginians have died from an opioid overdose, including 5,000 from a prescription opioid overdose. During the same period, Purdue made false claims about the purported safety, efficacy, and benefits of its opioids, including OxyContin, pushed tens of millions of pills and patches into the Commonwealth of Virginia, and reported billions in profits.

 

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