- Purdue Pharma sought a direct-to-consumer advertising agency to promote a new product, according to an AdWeek report that cites a recent email from the procurement department of the drug company best known for manufacturing Oxycontin.
- The email doesn't name the specific product, according to AdWeek, though it does say Purdue expected to launch the drug in the first quarter. A Purdue spokesperson told BioPharma Dive that the company is not looking for an agency to help market its prescription opioids — nor are there plans to conduct DTC advertising for Adhansia XR, an ADHD medicine approved last month by the Food and Drug Administration.
- AdWeek's report also cites data from Kantar Media, a company that tracks advertising spend, which estimates that Purdue last year shelled out roughly $35 million on paid media in the U.S., reflecting a more than threefold increase from 2017.
Purdue is under a microscope for the role it has played in the national opioid epidemic.
Though the company argues Oxycontin (oxycodone HCl) makes up a small piece of the prescription opioid market, the well-known painkiller's impact has been substantial. Hundreds of lawsuits across the U.S. claim Purdue fueled the epidemic with deceptive marketing tactics that failed to properly convey the safety risks associated with Oxycontin.
One lawsuit filed by the Massachusetts attorney general claimed Purdue in recent years has been looking more closely at the "attractive market" of opioid addiction treatment. The Sackler family, which owns Purdue, is asking for the dismissal of that case, arguing it relies on false assertions.
The litigation is a big part of a ballooning list of controversies facing Purdue and the Sacklers. In March, three museums disclosed they are no longer accepting donations from the family. And a month before that, a report by 60 Minutes claimed the FDA years ago bent to pressure from Purdue to expand Oxycontin's label.
"Contrary to assertions that FDA's changes to the OxyContin indication in 2001 broadened the medicine's use to chronic pain, the opposite was actually the case," Purdue countered in a statement following the 60 Minutes report, noting how in 2001 the agency affixed a black box warning on Oxycontin's label.
Purdue has tried to keep the conversation centered around how it is addressing the opioid crisis. The company is working on an opioid overdose treatment that last month received Fast Track designation from the FDA — though the juxtaposition of a portfolio that holds both Oxycontin and an overdose therapy has already led to criticism.
On the marketing side of things, Purdue last summer dissolved the remainder of its sales force. That doesn't necessarily mean the company is done marketing its products, however.
Along with the recently approved Adhansia XR (methylphenidate HCI) and the fast-tracked nalmefene HCl, Purdue also just got accepted an approval application for lemborexant, an insomnia drug co-developed with Japan’s Eisai.
"Our efforts for Adhansia XR will be focused on responsible and transparent interactions with the professional community to address needs in the existing population of appropriately-diagnosed patients. Ensuring the responsible prescribing and use of Adhansia XR is a priority," wrote a Purdue spokesperson in an email to BioPharma Dive.
Purdue representatives did not say whether the company is seeking an advertising agency to promote lemborexant or nalmefene HCl.