Purdue Punches Back

  • by: Peter Pitts |
  • 02/26/2019
How bad is it getting for Purdue Pharma? Bad enough that they're actually fighting back – and not pulling any punches.
They’ve responded forcefully to the recent 60 Minutes episode with a tick-tock response and a very unambiguous lawyers letter.
Some snippets:
Contrary to assertions that FDA’s changes to the OxyContin indication in 2001 broadened the medicine’s use to chronic pain, the opposite was actually the case. In July 2001, to address extensive abuse of OxyContin, FDA added a black box warning and narrowed the indication to “the management of moderate to severe pain when a continuous, around the clock analgesic is needed for an extended period of time.”
Purdue Pharma expressed concerns in the following letter to Mr. Bill Owens, Executive Producer of 60 Minutes …
Despite multiple meetings, phone calls, and email exchanges between representatives of Purdue and 60 Minutes Associate Producer Sam Hornblower (during which detailed information was exchanged), we are still concerned that Mr. Hornblower and 60 Minutes intend to air a biased and one-sided segment rife with significant errors and inaccuracies, and that 60 Minutes will refuse to disclose to its viewers critical information about the sources it intends to rely on (and even put on the air), including their personal biases toward Purdue and their financial incentives in making false and misleading statements about the company and OxyContin.
Dr. Kolodny has admitted, in the form of a court-filed expert disclosure report made under the penalty of perjury, to the fact that he is a paid consultant and advisor, earning $725/hour for his services.2He also lists on his CV that he submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce on February 27, 2018 as part of his required disclosures prior to his testimony under oath, that he served in a “CONSULTING AND ADVISING” role for “CBS 60 Minutes” in 2017 as part of 60 Minutes’ “The Whistleblower” segment. A copy of this expert disclosure report and Dr. Kolodny’s CV he submitted for his congressional testimony is enclosed for your reference. The facts demonstrate that Dr. Kolodny admits that he worked for 60 Minutes as a consultant and advisor within the last two years (and on a segment that touched on substantially similar subject matter is this segment) and that he is also a paid consultant on behalf of plaintiffs currently involved in active litigation with Purdue.
In that same vein and upon information and belief, we understand that Dr. Kessler has also performed extensive work for and has long consulted with and on behalf of plaintiff-side law firms who are or have been engaged in litigation against Purdue regarding the very same issues he purports 6to comment on for 60 Minutes’ planned segment. These types of consulting and advising roles for law firms involved in active or potential litigation are rarely if ever performed for free. It is incumbent upon 60 Minutes, as the ultimate publisher and airer of segments featuring biased and conflicted individuals like Dr. Kolodny and Dr. Kessler, to thoroughly investigate and vet its own sources and intended on-screen interviewees to confirm any such biases and financial incentives for promoting certain viewpoints and commentary. And where such biases and financial or otherwise personal motives to provide one-sided, incomplete, and even false commentary on a subject matter such as opioid use in the United States exists(as it clearly does with Dr. Kolodny and Dr. Kessler who are, at a minimum, paid-for consultants by individuals and parties who are currently suing Purdue), 60 Minutes has a duty to its viewers to clearly and unambiguously disclose such bias and the facts supporting their incentive and motivation for their viewpoints and commentary during any aired segment in which Dr. Kolodny and Dr. Kessler participate in, and to confront such bias head-on.

Transparency for thee but not for me?
Powerful stuff.
As Pharma CEOs prepare to step up to the plate and face a Congressional grilling, it’s time for Pharma to forcefully defend itself with context and … the truth.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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