The Pain in Spain: OxyContin Sales Shrink in U.S., So Purdue #Pharma Goes Global! | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

With the nation in the grip of an opioid epidemic that has claimed more than 200,000 lives, the U.S. medical establishment is turning away from painkillers. Top health officials are discouraging primary care doctors from prescribing them for chronic pain, saying there is no proof they work long-term and substantial evidence they put patients at risk.


Prescriptions for OxyContin have fallen nearly 40% since 2010, meaning billions in lost revenue for its Connecticut manufacturer, Purdue Pharma.


So the company’s owners, the Sackler family, are pursuing a new strategy: Put the painkiller that set off the U.S. opioid crisis into medicine cabinets around the world.


A network of international companies owned by the family is moving rapidly into Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and other regions, and pushing for broad use of painkillers in places ill-prepared to deal with the ravages of opioid abuse and addiction.


In this global drive, the companies, known as Mundipharma, are using some of the same controversial marketing practices that made OxyContin a pharmaceutical blockbuster in the U.S.


The Pain in Spain

Seeking new patients in Spain, Mundipharma chose ambassadors guaranteed to attract attention: Naked celebrities.


A string of topless actors, musicians and models looked into the camera and told fellow Spaniards to stop dismissing aches and pains as a normal part of life.


“Don’t resign yourself,” Maria Reyes, a model and former Miss Spain, said in the 2014 television spot.


“Chronic pain is an illness in and of itself,” the pop singer Conchita added.


The one-minute ad was part of a nationwide campaign developed and financed by Mundipharma to raise awareness of chronic pain — Rebélate contra el dolor (Rebel against the pain).


Further Reading:

  • “Purdue #Pharma Doesn't Want Court to Unseal Oxycontin Marketing Documents. What's It Hiding?”:
  • “OxyContin's 12-hour Problem: Misrepresentation of Efficacy Leads to Addiction & Purdue Knew It”:
  • “The History of Purdue's Marketing of Oxycontin & Its Connection to the Opiate Epidemic”: