Purdue’s PR Machine

How did Purdue Pharma sidestep widespread criticism for so long?

As suspicions—and lawsuits—mounted around its blockbuster painkiller, OxyContin, the company deployed a massive PR machine to second-guess bad press about opioids.

Purdue funded studies, think tanks, and pain patient advocacy groups; it also helped get sympathetic articles published in prime media outlets.

Those efforts may have worked well enough to fend off stricter prescribing regulations, and the Sackler family’s reckoning, for a decade.

At the core of their strategy: “blame the victim.” As former Purdue chief Richard Sackler put it in 2001: “They are the culprits and the problem. They are reckless criminals.”


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