Purdue Pharma, the company that created OxyContin, wants to offer free doses of a drug that helps treats opioid addiction to resolve more than 1,000 lawsuits.
The company has stated that it will give away doses of its new version of buprenorphine, which helps wean people addicted to opioids off of the drug, as part of any settlement.
The updated version of the drug is based on a patent that names physician and former Purdue president Richard Sackler as one of the inventors.
Buprenorphine was first approved by the FDA in 2002 and has been shown to be effective at treating opioid use disorders. The FDA has approved another version of Buprenorphine. Other drugs that can aid in the treatment of opioid disorders include naltrexone and methadone.
Purdue’s move is part of its overall effort to build goodwill and settle cases. The company has helped fund the distribution of naloxone, an opioid-overdose antidote, and purchased ads touting its efforts to fight addiction. The tactic is likely a ploy to shave off their financial contribution to the global settlement.
Nearly 50,000 people died from opioid overdose last year, up from 7,000 the previous year. The government has accused drug makers of downplaying the risks of opioids and overstating the benefits of the drugs.
U.S. District Court Judge Dan Polster, who is overseeing the litigation, has urged both sides to come to a settlement that doesn’t just move money around. Polster is looking for a settlement that will address the root cause of the opioid problem. Purdue’s offer may be part of a strategy to appeal to Polster.
It’s not uncommon for companies facing lawsuits to try and influence public opinion. A study from Harvard Business School found that advertising increased by 23% after lawsuits were filed, and these ads increased the probability of a favorable outcome for the company.