Bipartisan leaders of House panel press drug companies on opioid crisis

Bipartisan leaders of House panel press drug companies on opioid crisis
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Bipartisan leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee are pressing three drug companies for answers about their role in the opioid crisis.

The panel’s leaders sent letters to three companies that make opioids, Insys Therapeutics, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals and Purdue Pharma, requesting a briefing with the committee and answers to questions about how the companies marketed opioids and whether they looked the other way when they saw evidence of abuse of their products.

Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, has long been under scrutiny for misleadingly marketing its product as nonaddictive. The company pleaded guilty in 2007 to misrepresenting the drug’s addictive qualities.

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The committee’s letter to Purdue questions whether the company actually changed its marketing behavior after 2007.

The letter also points to evidence in media reports that the company knew the drug was being abused earlier than 2000, when officials have said they learned about the problem.

“If Purdue personnel were in fact aware of reports of OxyContin being abused prior to 2000, then that may call into question testimony company executives provided to Congress, including before this Committee,” the lawmakers write.

Earlier this year, Purdue said it would stop marketing opioids to doctors and laid off its sales force.

The letter was signed by the panel’s Chairman, Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenConservative group hits White House with billboard ads: 'What is Trump hiding?' 'Medicare for All' backers notch win with high-profile hearing Democrats declare victory for eliminating drug protections in trade deal MORE (R-Ore.), as well as ranking member Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneOvernight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Deal on surprise medical bills faces obstacles | House GOP unveils rival drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote | Justices to hear case over billions in ObamaCare payments Obstacles remain for deal on surprise medical bills This week: House impeachment inquiry hits crucial stretch MORE (D-N.J.) and Reps. Gregg HarperGregory (Gregg) Livingston HarperCongress sends bill overhauling sexual harassment policy to Trump's desk Dems cry foul in undecided N.C. race Mississippi New Members 2019 MORE (R-Miss.), Diana DeGetteDiana Louise DeGetteDemocrats request info on Google-Ascension partnership Trump health chief declines to detail ObamaCare replacement plan A dozen House Democrats call on EU ambassador to resign amid Ukraine scandal MORE (D-Colo.), Morgan GriffithHoward (Morgan) Morgan GriffithThe 27 Republicans who voted with Democrats to block Trump from taking military action against Iran Overnight Energy: Senate Dems introduce Green New Deal alternative | Six Republicans named to House climate panel | Wheeler confirmed to lead EPA Six Republicans named to House climate panel MORE (R-Va.) and Kathy CastorKatherine (Kathy) Anne CastorOvernight Energy: Pelosi vows bold action to counter 'existential' climate threat | Trump jokes new light bulbs don't make him look as good | 'Forever chemicals' measure pulled from defense bill Pelosi warns of 'existential' climate threat, vows bold action Overnight Energy: Pelosi vows to push for Paris climate goals | Senate confirms Brouillette to succeed Perry at Energy | EPA under attack from all sides over ethanol rule MORE (D-Fla.).

The committee has been investigating the opioid crisis for months, including looking into “pill dumping,” where drug distributors flooded small towns, particularly in West Virginia, with millions of opioid pills.