Letter to The New Yorker Includes Detailed, Fully Sourced Recitation of Errors & Misleading Statements

Letter to The New Yorker

Some Examples of False Claims in The New Yorker Articles

False Claim

“The Sackler dynasty’s ruthless marketing of painkillers has generated billions of dollars—and millions of addicts.”

Fact

OxyContin prescriptions have never amounted to more than 4% of the market for prescription opioids and there is no factual basis for the false assertion that the medicine addicted millions, an error that has been corrected elsewhere.

False Claim

“But Purdue, facing a shrinking market and rising opprobrium, has not given up the search for new users. In August, 2015, over objections from critics, the company received F.D.A. approval to market OxyContin to children as young as eleven.”

Fact

This statement is demonstrably false[1]. Purdue never sought or obtained permission to market OxyContin to children. The Pediatric Research Equity Act requires pharmaceutical companies to conduct pediatric studies. The FDA rejected Purdue’s request not to conduct these studies, and they had nothing to do with marketing.

False Claim

“But OxyContin’s success also sparked a deadly crisis of addiction.”

Fact

Government studies show OxyContin did not cause the opioid crisis: “This is merely the newest part of a prescription opioid diversion and abuse problem that has been rising since the mid-1980s.” – Dr. H. Westley Clark, Director of HHS-SAMHSA Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, February 2002[2]

False Claim

“Many people who were addicted but couldn’t afford or access prescription drugs transitioned to heroin and black-market fentanyl.”

Fact

A 2020 FDA review team found there was “not clear evidence that OxyContin’s reformulation caused heroin-naïve individuals to initiate use.” Additionally, the National Survey on Drug Use and Abuse found less than 4% of people who abused prescription opioids started using heroin within five years.