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 WaldenOvernight Energy: EPA expands use of pesticide it considers 'highly toxic' to bees | House passes defense bill with measure targeting 'forever chemicals' | Five things to watch as Barry barrels through the Gulf House passes bill to crack down on toxic 'forever chemicals' Overnight Defense: Woman accusing general of sexual assault willing to testify | Joint Chiefs pick warns against early Afghan withdrawal | Tensions rise after Iran tries to block British tanker MORE (R-Ore.), as well as ranking member Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneEquifax to pay up to 0 million to feds, states in 2017 data breach settlement Here are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment Overnight Energy: USDA expected to lose two-thirds of research staff in move west | EPA hails Trump's work on reducing air pollution | Agency eyes reducing inspections of nuclear reactors 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 DeGetteHere are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment Crucial for Congress to fund life-saving diabetes research Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids — White House withdraws controversial rule to eliminate drug rebates | Grassley says deal on drug prices moving 'very soon' | Appeals court declines to halt Trump abortion referral ban 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 CastorPelosi, Schumer invite US women's soccer team to Capitol Democrats grill Trump officials over fuel standard rollback Steyer group targeting 12 congressional Democrats over impeachment 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.