RI is Home to Major Oxycodone Manufacturer and Marketing — State is Suing Parent Company

Tuesday, September 11, 2018


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Oxycodone plant located in Coventry. Photos from Rhodes Technologies 2005 website

Rhode Island is one of a number of states suing Purdue Pharma, the inventor of Oxycontin, for what Attorney Generals are alleging in the lawsuit was intentionally running false marketing campaigns and helping to push the misuse of the killer drug.

And, little known to most, Rhode Island is home to one of the world's largest oxycodone manufacturing plants -- and the company's marketing functions.

Bloomberg has reported the ownership relationship between Purdue Pharma and RI-based Rhodes Technologies and its related marketing company. Rhodes is a subsidiary to Purdue, the company owned by the infamous Sackler family -- the billionaire family whose patriarch invented oxycontin and is now facing criticism and legal actions across the country for pushing the drug -- often described as "heroin in a pill."

Financial Times analysis of company registration documents also established that the family also owns Rhodes Pharma, "a little-known Rhode Island-based drugmaker that is among the largest producers of off-patent generic opioids in the US.”

The Financial Times reports, "Rhodes and Purdue combined accounted for 14.4m opioid prescriptions in 2016, according to figures seen by the FT, giving them a total share of 6 percent of the US opioid market."

Between 2001 and 2016, the number of opioid-related deaths in the United States increased by 345%, from 9,489 to 42,245 deaths. The numbers continue to explode.

“Drug overdoses killed about 72,000 Americans last year, a record number that reflects a rise of around 10 percent, according to new preliminary estimates from the Centers for Disease Control. The death toll is higher than the peak yearly death totals from H.I.V., car crashes or gun deaths,” according to the New York Times.

And tucked away in Coventry, Rhode Island, along a country road, is Rhodes Technology — surrounded by massive security. The company’s website has been under -reconstruction for the past few years -- all an effort to keep a low profile.

Rhode Island Role

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One of the Oxycodone products -- made in Rhode Island, according to Rhodes' website

A 2005 version of the Rhodes Technologies’ website GoLocal uncovered said, “We have very broad capabilities in developing sophisticated chemicals and offer confidential production of high purity APIs and finished dosage forms of innovative pharmaceuticals, as well as marketing and sales services. A multi-million dollar investment in a new cGMP facility completed in 2002 added controlled substances to our manufacturing capabilities. Rhodes is a diversified, dependable firm well positioned for partnerships.” 

The marketing arm of the Rhodes Technologies is Rhodes Pharmaceuticals and it self-describes itself as “a privately held company headquartered in picturesque Rhode Island....developing and distributing quality pharmaceutical products since 2008."

Emails and requests for an interview were not responded to by Rhodes Pharmaceuticals.

But Attorney Generals across the country place the opioid addiction problem and the resulting deaths of Purdue.

“Purdue's deceptive marketing efforts continued over the next several years, eventually coming under investigation by a number of state and federal entities. In 2007, Purdue and three of its executives pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges for deceptively marketing OxyContin, and had to reimburse Rhode Island for $1.2 million in costs incurred by the Medicaid Assistance Program from 1995 to 2005. As laid out in its plea agreement, Purdue systematically misrepresented the risk of addiction, including promising that opioid addiction occurred in less than1% of patients and that opioids were not addictive when legitimately prescribed. This was how Purdue explained away what doctors had previously believed about opioids: it was not that opioids were not addictive,  but rather opioids would not addict patients under a doctor's care" states Rhode Island's lawsuit against Purdue and other opioid companies.

The 108-page lawsuit goes on to allege, "Purdue deceptively undermined evidence that opioids are addictive by suggesting or stating that the risk of addiction is limited to specific, high-risk patients. AccordingtoPurdue, doctors can screen patients to identify those who are likely to become addicted, and therefore could safely prescribe to everyone else. One Rhode Island prescriber attended a Purdue-sponsored talk where the speaker said patients in true pain would not become addicted to opioids."


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