How Chemists, Chinese Factories, and ‘Dark Web’ Dealers Spread Fentanyl Across the US | The Nation: The Wizard of OxyContin—where is he now? That nickname, revealed in leaked documents, belonged to an employee of Abbott Laboratories, which partnered with Purdue Pharmaceuticals to sell the drug. Starting in the late 1990s, he and his colleagues canvassed clinics around the country, hard-selling doctors on their flagship product. Purdue wooed doctors taught to distrust pain medications with steaks, vacations, and a stunning range of swag: Oxy-branded clocks, pens, beach hats, even swing music compilations. They were told that, unlike other opioids, OxyContin was addiction-proof; its time-release coating assured a steady, measured dose and would thwart attempts at abuse. Unmentioned by those reps—but known by their bosses from day one—was the ease with which this coating could be removed. As doctors began prescribing the drug in ever-larger numbers and Oxy’s sales soared into the billions, this glitch would devastate families, ravage towns, and before long spark the worst drug crisis in US history.
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