The company blamed for starting the opioid epidemic has a lot to thank Rudy Giuliani for

Rudy Giuliani, the vice chairman of President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team, in Washington.
Thomson Reuters

Rudy Giuliani, who is being considered for a position in President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet, has ties to Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin.

According to The New York Times, Giuliani “used his clout with the Justice Department to press the federal authorities to offer a less onerous punishment to the company after allegations that security problems at its warehouses might have contributed to black market sales.” In 2007, Purdue pleaded guilty to “charges it misled doctors and patients about the addiction risks of the powerful narcotic painkiller OxyContin,” ABC News reported at the time. The company’s tactics have been blamed by many for triggering the opioid-addiction epidemic in the United States. As the American Journal of Public Health put it in 2009: “Purdue pursued an “aggressive” campaign to promote the use of opioids in general and OxyContin in particular.”

The Times, in its own 2007 story, detailed how, in 2002, Purdue hired “Mr. Giuliani and his consulting firm, Giuliani Partners, to help stem the controversy about OxyContin.”

“Among Mr. Giuliani’s missions,” The Times said, “was the job of convincing public officials that they could trust Purdue because they could trust him.”

Giuliani spoke with The Times for an article published Tuesday, but the Purdue relationship wasn’t addressed; the article focuses on Giuliani’s relationships with foreign governments because Giuliani is being considered for secretary of state. He has also reportedly been considered for attorney general.

Back in 2007, he reportedly told the Associated Press that Giuliani Partners acted ethically and legally.

The US is suffering from a deadly opioid epidemic, especially in rural areas, thanks to the widespread use of drugs like OxyContin as painkillers.

For example, 259 million prescriptions were written for opioid drugs in America in 2012, according to the American Society for Medicine, more than enough to give every adult in the country a bottle. Half a million Americans have died from opioid overdoses from 2000 to 2014.

Sen. Edward Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, called for the Justice Department and other government agencies to investigate the company. That was after a Los Angeles Times report found that OxyContin wears out early in a lot of patients, making them more vulnerable to addiction.

STAT News also recently published a chilling report describing how Purdue used aggressive tactics to ensure that health officials in West Virginia could not limit the prescription of the drug.

From STAT:

“‘We were screaming at the wall,’ said Tom Susman, who headed the state’s public employee insurance agency in the early 2000s and led the push to limit OxyContin prescribing in West Virginia.

“‘We saw it coming,’ he said of the opioid epidemic, which today causes 28,000 overdose deaths a year in the United States. “Now to see the aftermath is the most frustrating thing I have ever seen.'”

For more on this, head to The New York Times>>