Tufts reviews ties to Purdue Pharma after details of partnership emerge in court filing

Tufts University is reviewing its ties to Purdue Pharmaceuticals after court filings emerged last week suggesting the maker of OxyContin sought a partnership with the Boston medical school to boost prescription rates and generate goodwill toward opioids as painkillers, according to STAT.

The revised lawsuit against Purdue Pharma disclosed several partnerships with healthcare organizations the drugmaker pursued to increase prescription rates for OxyContin.

A Tufts spokesperson called Purdue's ties to the university and the other details that came to light "deeply troubling," after the court filing was made public.

"We will be undertaking a review of Tufts' connection with Purdue to ensure that we were provided accurate information, that we followed our conflict-of-interest guidelines, and that we adhered to our principles of academic and research integrity," Tufts spokesperson Patrick Collins told STAT.

According to the revised lawsuit from Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, Tufts University hired a Purdue Pharma employee in 2011 to serve as an adjunct associate professor. In addition, Purdue Pharma-written materials were approved for lectures in 2014, and the company sent staff to Tufts as recently as 2017. Purdue's sales team stationed in the area were congratulated for "penetrating this account."

Purdue Pharma's ties to Tufts date to 1980, when the Sackler family, which owns the company, donated funding to establish the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences. In 1999, the Sacklers gave money to start the Tufts masters of science in pain research education and policy. Through the master's program, "Purdue got to control research on the treatment of pain coming out of a prominent and respected institution of learning," the filing states.

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