Friday, April 6, 2018

Big Pharma: Purdue Pharma is under scrutiny for being “Drug dealers” (2018)


Purdue pharma is the creator, producer and seller of the name brand opioid based drug known as OxyContin. This drug was created as a narcotic that serves to treat people who have both severe and chronic pain, it works is by altering how nerves within the body feel ans respond to pain. Throughout the course of the last few years this drug has had huge spikes usage and has resulted in many people overdosing and dying. In just the year 2015 33,000 confirmed deaths from overdoses on OxyContin.
A bottle of OxyContin clearly sporting Purdue Pharma Label
One of the main reasons that OxyContin has
made such a large impact on the amount of overdoses every year is due to the fact the Purdue pharma pushes its drugs very heavily on both doctors and hospitals. Purdue had large sales teams that were tasked with going to hospitals all over the country and explain to doctors all the so called great things that OxyContin can do for patients. However it was found out that they were actually "engaging in misleading marketing that overstated the benefits of opioids for treating chronic pain rather than short-term pain." In recent years many differed states have filed law suits against Purdue stating that they were significantly playing down the risks of addiction that OxyContin posed to people. Within the last year Purdue Pharma has laid off more than 50 percent of their sales force in an effort to save face with the numerous amount of other lawsuits they are being bombard with all having to do with there lack of stating the facts about the dangers of their drug while pushing it onto doctors at the same time. For example, in one study conducted by Purdue Pharma they stated that only about 1 percent of opioid users become addicted but then shortly after they were forced to come out and say that they used falsified information and that the number was actually much higher. Other methods such as this have also been used by Purdue, video campaigns that pictured someone who looked to be a doctor stating things such as "they don’t wear out, they go on working, and they don’t have any serious medical side effects.” have been streamed on national television. Purdue's deceptive ways of selling there drug has only recently been discovered. However, the damage done by Purdue has already been done. With millions of dollars in tax money gone to treating people who had become addicted to opioids and countless lives Purdue has built their empire on the lives of other people.


The stakeholders involved in this case include a large number of people. The biggest stakeholder would have to be the people being prescribed the drug, the individuals that become addicted and or die while using something that is supposed to benefit them. The second of that being Purdue pharma, the people who sell the drug. The individuals that can be grouped in with Purdue include the sales team, the workers hired by the company, the CEO and owners of the company ( The Sackler Family), and the people who own shares in the company. Another stakeholder would be the doctors and the hospitals that Purdue is marketing the drugs too. One of the last stakeholders would be the taxpayers who have to pay money for the damage that Purdue has done, such as the hospital bills that people acquire from overdosing on the drug.
This shows one of the cases were a state sued Purdue Pharma


Individualism stated by Milton Friedman, says that "the only goal of a business is to profit, so the only obligation that the bushiness person has is to maximize profit for the owner or the stakeholders." So based off of this case while looking at it through the ideals of individualism it is easy to say that Purdue pharma was acting as ethically as they could. The reason for stating this would be that Purdue was doing everything that they could to maximize profits for their company and the stakeholders. Although there methods of making money could be considered terrible they were still just trying to make as much money as they could.


Kantianism stated by Kant is supposed to evaluate the case by looking at the intelligence behind the business itself. He would ask is what the business doing make sense? The way in which Kant would answer this question would be by looking at the moral justifications of the case.  While evaluating this case Kant would believe that Purdue was morally unjustifiable. The reason for this would be that Purdue knew that they were advertising a product that was unsafe while at the same time they were stating that it contained many dangerous side affect such as dependency. As well as the fact that it could be overdosed on quite easily. This also directly goes against Kants formula of humanity which states that people should be considered an ends and not a means. This suggests that you shouldn't use people to make money, instead you should provide them with a product that keeps them coming back for more


The way in which someone would look at this case from a utilitarianism standpoint would be by viewing the overall happiness of all parties involved. This means that both he company itself and the customers of the company should all be happy and satisfied at the end of the day. While looking at this case it is easy to say that Purdue pharma is operating incorrectly. The reason for this would be due to the fact that the customers are not happy. The fact that they become addicted to the product and sometimes die due to overdosing proves that they are not content.

Virtue Theory:

Virtue Theory is based off of the question is a business ethically acting correctly and can be evaluated with four different characteristics, these include courage, honesty, temperance, and justice. While looking at this case through virtue theory it can be deemed unethical for several reason. The first being that of the fact that Purdue is telling people that their drug is safe and contains almost no side effects. However, at the same time the drug is killing thousands and thousands of people. While causing many others to fall victim to addiction. Purdue was not honest to the customers and to the doctors whom they were selling the drugs too.

Works Cited
Abuse, National Institute on Drug. “Overdose Death Rates.” NIDA, NIH, 15 Sept. 2017,

Abuse, National Institute on Drug. “What Science Tells Us About Opioid Abuse and Addiction.” NIDA, 27 Jan. 2016,

Axelrod, Jim. “Purdue Pharma, Maker of OxyContin, Backs off Aggressive Marketing amid Lawsuits.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 12 Feb. 2018,

“Capping Years of Criticism, Purdue Pharma Will Stop Promoting Its Opioid Drugs to Doctors.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 10 Feb. 2018,

“Oxycontin Oral : Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Pictures, Warnings & Dosing.” WebMD, WebMD,

Reuters. “OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma to Stop Promoting the Drug to Doctors.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 10 Feb. 2018,

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