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: Green groups to sue over Trump rollback of Obama water rules | GOP climate plan faces pushback from right | Bezos launches B climate initiative GOP climate plan faces pushback — from Republicans Coalition plan seeks to cut carbon emissions in half by 2035 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 DeGetteOvernight Energy: Panel gives chairman power to subpoena Interior | House passes bill to protect wilderness | House Republicans propose carbon capture bill | Ocasio-Cortez introduces bill to ban fracking House passes Protecting America's Wilderness Act Vaping execs tell lawmakers that e-cigarettes are not meant for young people MORE (D-Colo.), Morgan GriffithHoward (Morgan) Morgan GriffithAbortion wars flare up in Congress Overnight Health Care: Big Pharma looks to stem losses after trade deal defeat | House panel to examine federal marijuana policies | House GOP reopens investigation into opioid manufacturers House GOP reopens investigation into opioid manufacturers over role in crisis MORE (R-Va.) and Kathy CastorKatherine (Kathy) Anne CastorM ad buy praises swing-district Democrats' environmental work Hillicon Valley: Twitter to let users report election misinformation | Dem offers updates to child privacy rules | ACLU pushes back on Puerto Rico online voting proposal Democratic lawmaker introduces bill to increase minors' online protection 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.