Under-fire Purdue hunts for ad agency to promote upcoming product: report

U.S. opioid epidemic
Purdue Pharma, under fire nationwide for opioid marketing practices, is reportedly seeking an ad agency to promote a new non-opioid product. (Stuart Ritchie)

Purdue Pharma's opioid marketing days are over, but now, the company is reportedly looking for an ad agency to help promote a new product.

The search is on for an ad agency to help with an unnamed upcoming product, according to Adweek. A Purdue spokesperson would not confirm or deny the report but said the company was not looking for marketing help with opioids or its new ADHD treatment Adhansia XR, which the FDA recently approved for Purdue's Adlon Therapeutics subsidiary.

Purdue stopped marketing its opioid products—Oxycontin, Butrans and Hysingla—in February 2018. Adweek reported that Purdue’s procurement head asked agencies about further discussions “regarding this exciting project and [their] potential interest in participating.”

"We are not seeking an ad agency for our prescription opioids and we have no plans to do direct-to-consumer advertising for Adhansia XR. Our efforts for Adhansia XR will be focused on responsible and transparent interactions with the professional community to address needs in the existing population of appropriately-diagnosed patients. Ensuring the responsible prescribing and use of Adhansia XR is a priority," the Purdue spokesperson told FiercePharma by email.

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Purdue's opioid business has been besieged by state and local lawsuits accusing Purdue of deceptive marketing in downplaying the risks and overstating the benefits of opioids—to the point of bankruptcy consideration. The company recently settled its first lawsuit with the state of Oklahoma for $270 million, but literally thousands of suits remain in litigation.

Still, Purdue continues to build out other products in its portfolio and filed an NDA in conjunction with Eisai in January for insomnia treatment lemborexant. In March, the FDA granted Purdue fast track status for its opioid overdose emergency treatment Nalmefene HCI.

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Purdue hasn’t given up on new pain treatments, either. In February, the company's new clinical research subsidiary, Imbrium Therapeutics, struck a deal with TetraGenetics and its antibody discovery platform to help develop new, non-opioid-based biologics for treating chronic pain.