Watch this 1998 Purdue Pharma marketing video for OxyContin

Originally published at: Watch this 1998 Purdue Pharma marketing video for OxyContin | Boing Boing

I don’t understand how anyone in 1998 would think “Nathan Thurm without the glasses” would be a good casting choice. An appropriate one, all things considered, but not a good one.



It shouldn’t be legal to advertise prescription drugs. We a have a thing called doctors who diagnose your condition and prescribe the appropriate drugs (though I know there are issues there already with drug companies lobbying doctors). The idea that there is a valid reason to air TV commercials to sell prescription drugs doesn’t make any sense.


In Europe we don’t have ads for prescription drugs. Seeing ad after ad for prescription drugs in the 'States was a real shocker.

Also a shocker was finding a whole street in San Francisco that was wall-to-wall bail bond shops. We don’t have them here either (AFAIK).


I remember back in the late 80s/early '90s (lived near the US border) seeing some drug commercials on the US channels that were basically a two minute listing of all of the people who should not take their drug… with a nice pastoral background of flowers, and wondering “wouldn’t it be quicker for them to list the people who can take this thing? What’s it even for?” They never said!

Regarding that super comforting “less than 1%”, every prescription drug I’ve ever taken that has a listed negative side effect, no matter how low a percentage of the people taking it are supposed to be affected, I end up getting hit with it. And worse, I usually don’t get the actual effect the drug is supposed to have. Glad I never got stuck with this stuff.


Once you found the right doctor and have told him or her about your pain

this has always been the most infuriating aspect of prescription drug advertising as far as i’m concerned. look, i live in the u.s. so i understand that stable access to quality healthcare and having the same doctor for long spans are not always realities. but it seems pretty clear that you are slyly advising people to shop for doctors and insist that they put you on the meds you saw on tv.

there’s always that part in the commercial where they say, “tell your doctor if you have a heart condition.” um, i would hope that if i had a heart condition, my doctor would tell me.


Burn in Hell, you amoral shill!


It seems to be specifically predatory of that reality, IMO.

“Look, we know you don’t have a long-term primary care physician who knows your medical history and can help you determine appropriate treatment, so why not take that on, yourself?”


Only 1%… no, not the 1% - become addicted.
Any drowsiness… that might occur when taking… the medication… can be remedied with a shot of espresso - or caffeine pills.


This is a disgrace fairly unique to the US, I believe. In Canada nothing medical can be advertised, as it’s considered unethical. My dad, who is a veterinarian, couldn’t even put a large square in the yellow pages. Only a line item.


I’m glad the Sacklers of Shit as well as the soulless army of McKinsey MBAs who came up with better methods to peddle their drugs are finally starting to be held accountable. Too bad it took 20+ years.


I feel like this is as good a place as any to drop this.

TL;DW: It’s an actual, incredibly cringeworthy rap video made by Insys Pharmaceuticals celebrating their sales reps pushing doctors to prescribe dangerous and highly addictive drugs. It’s got it all: reference to kickback scheme, wanton disregard for human lives, glorification of drug use, terrible white-guy rap, and a dancing anthropomorphic opiod spray.


How does what Purdue are suggesting differ from what William Burroughs was in Junky?

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So more than 99% of patients with unbearable pain are supposed to suffer instead of being treated by a physician who can supervise for complications like addiction? Are they supposed to self-medicate without supervision, using alcohol (5.6% addiction rate) or cannabis (10% addiction rate), neither of which is nearly as effective for pain?

I get that it’s bad to promote prescription drugs and to look the other way when you know they’re being prescribed inappropriately. But there are people who need powerful pain control. These people have become casualties of the backlash.

Meanwhile, insurance companies save a bundle by refusing to pay for opioid medications while raking in good PR for doing their part in the opioid epidemic. (Their part typically involves driving patients to street drugs.) Other treatments aren’t nearly as effective and are often more invasive and less available (because of costs and insufficient insurance).

Why are you being so defensive? I’m not defensive.

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The US incarcerates the most people.

Per capita or absolute? It doesn’t matter, most by any metric.

We’re number 1. Aren’t you jealous?


I think your missing the part that the 1% was a bald face lie and that they didn’t “look the other way” – the innapropriate prescribing was their idea. Purdue’s own research showed higher addiction rates and they actively lobbied doctors to prescribe larger doses taken less often knowing that would cause more highs and crashes increasing addiction.

  1. It is super immoral and unethical to advertize prescription drugs to the public.

  2. With the relatively recent legalization of cannabis in a number of states, we’ve seen precipitous drop offs in deaths due to opioid abuse and alcohol abuse. There is no practical way to overdose on cannabis.

  3. Opioids are just not appropriate for long term and chronic pain management. Humans build tolerance to it very quickly. We legitimately have a dire need to discover more and better pain management drugs.

  4. Opioids are also pretty inappropriate for things like minor surgical pain. I’ve had 2 ingrown toenail surgeries, where the doctor prescribed me 30(!) days of opioid painkillers. Luckily for me, I had already had past experience that let me know that they wouldn’t work and would cause a bad reaction. I let my doctor know. He said “I don’t have any other options to give you”.


“And any drowsiness will soon wear off in most patients.”

Uh, yeah, as your body adapts and becomes addicted.


I start to get upset when execs for OxyContin talk about how it was the 90’s and no one knew opioids could be so addicting. Having lived through the 90’s I’d like to say just about everyone knew opiods were highly physically addicting. Conveniently the only ones that didn’t seem to know this fact were the drug dealers peddling their synthetic heroin to doctors and telling them it’s not addictive.