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opioid crisis

Purdue Pharma's international wing has been implicated in an opioid corruption scandal in Italy

The marketing tactics that allegedly helped spur the current opioid crisis in the United States also played a role in at least one foreign market, a report from The Associated Press reveals.

Hundreds of pages of investigative files reviewed by AP show that a well-known Italian doctor, Guido Fanelli, was receiving "kickbacks" from pharmaceutical executives as incentive to increase sales of opioid painkillers in Italy. The executives include managers of Mundipharma, the international wing of Purdue Pharma, the American pharmaceutical giant which is facing more than 2,000 lawsuits stateside because of its role in the opioid crisis. Two Mundipharma managers reportedly accepted plea bargains in January after allegations that they paid Fanelli to push drug sales, though they did not admit guilt.

AP reports this is the first known instance outside the U.S. in which employees of the Sackler family-owned pharmaceutical empire have been implicated in criminal activity. It is worth noting, however, that while Mundipharma and Purdue are both owned by a share of trusts that benefit the Sacklers, a spokesman for Mundipharma's European branch said the two companies have different managers and portfolios and do not share strategies.

That said, the way opioids were sold in Italy mirror the tactics used in the United States in the eyes of some observers. "They're using the same playbook that worked in the United States, despite knowing that it led to a public health catastrophe" Andrew Kolodny, the executive director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, told AP. Read more at The Associated Press.