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BC-Global Opioids, ADVISORY

May 28, 2019

Editors, News Directors:

An upcoming Associated Press investigation explores the ongoing promotion of opioids for chronic pain - this time, outside of the United States. The AP has spent months reporting on a criminal probe in Europe involving marketing practices that experts say mirror those that helped launch the opioid crisis in America. The main story, at about 3,800 words, will move for release at 12:01 a.m. EST on Wednesday, May 29, along with an abridged version, a “top takeaways” glance, photos and a video story. This reporting is funded in part by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

For questions contact U.S. Enterprise Editor Pauline Arrillaga at parrillaga@ap.org


PARMA, Italy _ The police huddled for hours each day, eavesdropping on the doctor. They’d tapped his cellphone, bugged his office, planted a camera in a trattoria. They heard him boast about his power to help Big Pharma make millions pushing painkillers, and about all the money they say he was paid in exchange. Now Dr. Guido Fanelli is at the center of a sprawling corruption case alleging he took kickbacks from an alliance of pharmaceutical executives he nicknamed “The Pain League.” Its members, police say, included managers with Mundipharma _ the international arm of Purdue Pharma, which is facing some 2,000 lawsuits in the United States over its role in the opioid crisis that has claimed 400,000 lives. The case offers a look at how Big Pharma still pushed opioids even after the cause and consequence of the U.S. epidemic had become apparent. As the U.S. market contracts, opioid consumption is climbing overseas. Canada and Australia are already following America’s catastrophic course, with rising rates of addiction and death. Others may be on the cusp of crisis: Overdoses are increasing in Sweden, Norway, Ireland and England. Researchers in Brazil report that prescription opioid sales have increased 465 percent in six years.

This 3,800-word investigation, by Claire Galofaro and Frances D’Emilio, will move at 12:01 a.m. EST on May 29.


_ A 1,000-word abridged version.

_ A 550-word “top takeaways” glance.

_ A video story set in Italy, with shots of Fanelli, the Italian Carabinieri and a yacht Fanelli allegedly bought with kickbacks, as well as an interview with a U.S. opioid expert.

_ Photos that include exteriors of Purdue and Mundipharma, as well as shots of the yacht, Fanelli outside Carabinieri headquarters in Parma, Italy, the San Patrignano rehab center near Coriano, Italy, and U.S. opioid protests.

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