Congressman Keller participates in hearing on America’s opioid epidemic

December 18, 2020
Press Release
Says more accountability is needed in the pharmaceutical industry

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Fred Keller (R-PA) participated in a hearing of the House Oversight and Reform Committee focusing on the role of Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family in the opioid epidemic. During his remarks, Congressman Keller highlighted the importance of holding companies like Purdue Pharma accountable for engaging in deceptive tactics that ultimately worsened America’s opioid epidemic. 

Congressman Keller noted that Purdue Pharma and the Sackler Family significantly downplayed the addictiveness and other effects of OxyContin to the American people when the drug was first marketed.

“Starting in 1996, Purdue Pharma and the Sackler Family marketed OxyContin—a drug at the forefront of our nation’s opioid epidemic—as having much lower addiction risk to patients, which sharply contrasts with the reality that this drug has cost lives and torn families apart,” Keller said. 

Congressman Keller asked Dr. Craig Landau, President and CEO of Purdue Pharma, what his company is doing to educate patients and providers about the dangers of overprescribing opioids.

“We are supporting a tremendous amount of education through third party resources to bring to the surface important information relating to the prescription of opioids—their safe storage and disposal—and the consequences of addiction with an emphasis on school children to prevent them from initial exposure which can have devastating consequences,” Dr. Landau said. 

In a follow-up question about ensuring accountability in the future, Congressman Keller asked Dr. Landau how he would recommend Congress work with the pharmaceutical industry to prevent opioid addiction. 

“What I would recommend is to make training for prescribing opioids mandatory,” Dr. Landau said. 
“I would also suggest that efforts be made to require that all the medicines within this class—controlled release and immediate release opioids—have barriers introduced to make them less attractive as drugs of abuse. Addiction is a tougher issue. It’s a complex medical condition with various contributing factors. I think education of physicians and access to healthcare are vital.” 

A copy of Congressman Keller’s remarks can be found below.

Thank you, Madam Chair,

I appreciate you holding this important hearing. For decades, drug overdose deaths have remained at an unacceptable level across the United States. Just last year, we lost 4,458 Pennsylvanians due to drug overdose. That’s 12 deaths per day on average, which is 12 too many. 

I hope this committee and the House of Representatives can get to work on solutions that save lives and enhance the 21st Century Cures Act and the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. 

Thanks to these efforts and President Trump’s leadership on the issue, more resources are available to fight the opioid epidemic. Naloxone is more widely available to prevent overdoses, which has led to encouraging downward trends, however more work is needed to reduce deaths related to the opioids. This includes holding companies like Perdue accountable for their deceptive tactics. 

Starting in 1996, Perdue Pharma and the Sackler Family marketed OxyContin—a drug at the forefront of our nation’s opioid epidemic—as having much lower addiction risk to patients, which sharply contrasts with the reality that this drug has cost lives and torn families apart.