October 8th, 2012
OxyContin's marketing trumped science in '90s
By Jeff Siner
Driving home from a hunting trip in 2008, Johnny Sullivan called his wife to say he was having trouble staying awake.
It was early afternoon, but Mary Lou Sullivan wasn’t surprised. Her husband was a longtime user of the narcotic painkiller OxyContin and frequently dozed off as a side effect, sometimes in the middle of chewing his food.
About 10 years earlier, Sullivan and six other chronic pain sufferers had been featured in a promotional video for OxyContin that was put out by the drug company Purdue Pharma. In the video, Sullivan stood at a construction site and talked about how the powerful narcotic eased his back pain and enabled him to run his company again.
But a few years after being prescribed OxyContin, Sullivan became addicted to it and other prescription opioids, his family said.