OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma has been widely blamed for unleashing the American overdose epidemic.
Now its foreign affiliate, Mundipharma, is marketing an overdose reversal drug from Europe to Australia that it touts as critical to saving lives amid the opioid crisis.
According to Pharmaletter, Mundipharma's drug is designed to provide those who are first on the scene in overdose situations with an easy to use, needle-free option.
"Our efforts in addiction medicine have already resulted in making an opioid agonist treatment available," Mundipharma said on their website in a section titled Our Responsibility to Opioid Management. "Our ambition is to provide a broader range of therapeutic options, giving patients the best possible chance to overcome their personal challenges in heroin dependence."
According to the Center for Disease Control's most recent study from 2017, 70,237 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States in 2017. Opioids - mainly synthetic opioids - were the main driver of drug overdose deaths.
Critics say it is unethical for a pharmaceutical empire accused of fueling the crisis to now be making money off the antidote.
The News & Observer quoted outspoken critic, Dr. Andrew Kolodny, summing up backlash to the drug: "You're in the business of selling medicine that causes addiction and overdoses, and now you're in the business of selling medicine that treats addiction and overdoses? That's pretty clever, isn't it?"
Even experts who criticize the company say antidotes to opioid overdoses are badly needed.
CLAIRE GALOFARO and KRISTEN GELINEAU from the Associated Press contributed to this article.