Lawsuit Says Opioid Maker Trained Staff Using Movie About 'Aggressive,' 'Deceptive' Salesmen

Posted at 12:10 PM, Jul 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-06 19:09:40-04

A lawsuit unsealed this week alleged that OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma used “unprecedented marketing” to push opioids to prescribing doctors and created a “deceptive narrative” claiming that its opioids were less addictive than they actually were.

The suit was originally filed by Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery in May, but the suit was made public this week after Purdue Pharma dropped its attempt at keeping the lawsuit sealed citing trade secrets.

In the lawsuit, the Attorney General claims Purdue Pharma used its sales force to target those who prescribed the most painkillers, many of whom had limited or no background in pain management. The lawsuit cites one example of a provider Purdue Pharma called 31 times, even after the provider was placed on restrictive probation for prescribing high amounts of controlled substances.

The lawsuit alleges Purdue Pharma employees were trained to “ABC,” which means “Always Be Closing," It's a well-known phrase from the movie Glengarry Glen Ross about “highly-aggressive sales men who use deceptive tactics to sell undesirable real estate at inflated prices,” according to the lawsuit.

The phrases “ABC” and “Always Be Closing” were written down by marketing employees in sections of Purdue Pharma training books included in the lawsuit. 

In another training book excerpt, a trainee wrote down the phrase “never give someone more info than they need to act.” Other sections of the training book included a graphic of a pill bottle with the phrase “We sell hope in a bottle” printed above it.

The lawsuit also claims that Purdue Pharma employees would continue to make sales calls to providers despite credible reports of patient overdoses, a provider admitting he was addicted to heroin, a knife fight outside a provider’s office, and a patient being coached in a waiting room. The lawsuit claims that Purdue Pharma sales calls to opioid providers exponentially increased through 2016, even after the drug maker was under investigation.