Purdue Pharma, an opioid maker that’s been accused of fueling the U.S. addiction crisis, said Wednesday it is donating nearly $3.5 million to a nonprofit that is developing a cheaper version of naloxone, an overdose-reversing drug.
The company says its donation to Harm Reduction Therapeutics will accelerate the development of an over-the-counter nasal spray, pushing up its anticipated release to 18 to 24 months from now.
Naloxone is viewed as an effective tool for reviving people who suffer an opioid overdose, though Capitol Hill lawmakers and state and city officials say available versions of the drug are still too expensive, so not enough people are carrying it.
Purdue said an over-the-counter version would offer a cheaper alternative to the general public and first responders. The company said it will not receive any revenues or royalties from the product, once it is approved.
“Purdue is committed to advancing patient care and public safety. While naloxone accessibility cannot be seen as a single solution, it must be part of our collective actions,” Purdue President and CEO Craig Landau said. “This grant is one example of the meaningful steps Purdue is taking to help address opioid abuse in our communities.”
Multiple states and local jurisdictions have sued Purdue over its marketing of popular opioid drugs in previous decades, saying the company shrouded the addictive nature of the product.
Other opioid makers and distributors have been sued, too, though Purdue is often portrayed as the main bogeyman amid the drug crisis.
As Purdue deals with litigation, the company has taken a number of steps to try and prove its serious about combatting addiction.
It is no longer marketing OxyContin to doctors, and it’s taken out full-page ads saying they want to be constructive partners in the opioids fight.
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