Here’s an interesting piece by a recovering person in response to a full page ad taken out by Purdue Pharma in the New York Times. Purdue’s message: Hey, we’re part of the solution! We’re no longer the bad guys! But as the opinion piece makes clear, to some folks they were such a BIG part of the problem that it can’t be erased by an advertising campaign. Purdue needs to come up with something better than a group of new, slightly improved products to hawk to customers for “mo’ money”.

If you want a good overview of PP’s role in the opioid epidemic– they make and market Oxycontin– please check out Sam Quinones’ superb book DreamlandHere’s a preview.

Which brings up an interesting question: What can Purdue Pharma do to help offset the damage done by the opioid epidemic? And I have a few suggestions:

  • Fund treatment programs for opioid disorders, since this is an area likely to be hard-hit by cutbacks in Medicaid and other funding. Candidates include outpatient programs, medication-assisted treatment, and residential programs, as well as combinations of the above.
  • Fund new treatment programs in areas that are badly underserved, such as rural communities where the epidemic was often triggered by “pill mills” operated by unscrupulous healthcare providers. You know whose pills they were pushing, right?
  • Fund prevention efforts to increase awareness of dangerous new trends in substance use, such as the introduction of fentanyl and carfentanil, usually anonymously, into the street heroin supply. Or the sudden influx of “lookalike” pills and capsules that may be packaged as legitimate medications yet contain high potency analogs that pose a significant risk of overdose and medical complications.
  • And on the plus side, why not fund public information efforts about the use and availability of overdose prevention, drug detoxification, and affordable treatment in the community?

Of course, those options all cost the company money, rather than simply improve the bottom line. Purdue Pharmaceuticals will have to explain that to the shareholders, and it may cost the execs a bonus, which would be tragic.

OTOH, maybe investors will understand. Maybe they’ll be impressed by the good will such efforts might create.

I think most Americans understand the concept of making amends for past misdeeds. Or look at it this way: You broke it, you help pay to fix it.