Oz in the News 12.18.17

A drugmaker used “The Wizard of Oz” to sell OxyContin After Purdue Pharma brought its blockbuster painkiller OxyContin to market in 1996, the company began an aggressive marketing push to convince doctors to start prescribing the drug for moderate pain, like arthritis.  Purdue’s marketing efforts worked: Within five years, OxyContin became the most frequently prescribed brand name narcotic to treat moderate to severe pain in the country.  By 2004, OxyContin also quickly became one of the most abused pharmaceutical drugs in U.S. history, playing a major role in America’s opioid epidemic, which has impacted millions and kills more than 90 people each day. At the heart of Purdue’s sales tactics was an unusual marketing guide, based on the children’s classic “The Wizard of Oz.”  Marketplace obtained a copy of a Purdue Pharma sales document, called “IF I ONLY HAD A BRAIN…”  It was stamped “Training & Development,” and sent out to the “Entire Field Force” from the sales department on November 4, 1996.  In the document, Purdue offers its sales reps a step-by-step guide to convincing doctors to prescribe OxyContin. That step-by-step guide was built on “The Wizard of Oz,” complete with munchkins, Auntie Em, Dorothy, and the Yellow Brick Road.

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