No, Purdue Pharma Does Not Have Anything to Do With Purdue University

Purdue Pharma is well-known as one of the pharmaceutical companies responsible for the opioid epidemic, but are they related to Purdue University?


May 10 2021, Published 1:10 p.m. ET

Purdue Pharma Logo
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When you hear the name Purdue, you likely think of one of a few things. You might think of the college, or the chicken, or the pharmaceutical company that's been singled out for its aggressive sales of opioids in recent decades. In recent years, Purdue Pharma has been in the news for marketing OxyContin aggressively throughout the 1990s, leading some to become addicted to the drug after it was prescribed to them. 

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Is Purdue Pharma related to Purdue University?

Given the hugely negative reputation that Purdue Pharma, and the Sacklers, the family that owns the company, have garnered in recent years, many people are wondering if brands with similar names are associated with the company. 

Purdue University, for its part, is eager to ensure that everyone knows that they are in no way associated with Purdue Pharma.
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"Purdue University is not and has never been affiliated in any way with Purdue Pharma," the university wrote in a 2019 statement. "The pharmaceutical company was founded in Manhattan in 1892 by John Purdue Gray and George Frederick Bingham as the Purdue Frederick Company. Purdue University was founded in 1869 as Indiana’s land-grant institution, named for benefactor John Purdue." 

The university also asks that journalists include that statement in all articles written about Purdue Pharma. Clearly, the university wants it to be clear that they are not affiliated with the company in any way. 

As it turns out, the college isn't the only thing with a name that resembles the pharmaceutical giant that actually has no responsibility for the opioid epidemic.

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Is Purdue Pharma related to Perdue Chicken?

Like Purdue University, Perdue Chicken is also unrelated to Purdue Pharma. Perdue Chicken Farms was founded in 1920 by Arthur and Pearl Perdue, and one of their descendants is still involved with running the company. 

Importantly, Perdue Chicken is spelled differently from Purdue Pharma, so any shared relationship between them was always unlikely. 

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Purdue Pharma is the subject of a new HBO documentary.

Alex Gibney, the director behind documentaries like The Inventor and Going Clear, has made his latest film about Purdue Pharma. The documentary, which is called Crime of the Century, focuses on the ways that Purdue Pharma increased the sales of OxyContin by telling doctors and patients that the drug was not going to lead to addiction. The Sackler family has denied wrongdoing, and is seeking immunity from future lawsuits by giving up control of the company and agreeing to a $4.2 billion deal.

The director describes the company's crime as "a marketing campaign designed to spread the use of opioids from immediate use after major surgery or end-of-life cancer pain to widespread use for all sorts of pain medications," during an interview with NPR's Morning Edition. "On the assertion, which is really nothing more than that by Purdue, that you really can't get addicted." 

Given the negative press that Purdue is going to continue getting for months and maybe years, it makes sense that other entities with similar names would want to distance themselves. After all, a bad name can be a branding disaster. 

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