In Italy, a peculiar rise in opioid prescriptions brought suspicion against Perdue Pharmaceuticals and a doctor named Guido Fanelli. Authorities began to suspect a conspiracy among a group of pharmaceutical executives police nicknamed “The Pain League.” Used to fighting corruption and the inner workings of criminal cases such as mob bosses, authorities sought to find culpability within Mundipharma — the international arm of Purdue Pharma. They began an investigation using wiretaps and subpoenas to follow the money.
Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of Oxycontin, faces over 2,000 lawsuits in the United States over its role in the opioid crisis. This case is the first known case outside the U.S., where executives and employees of Perdue are criminally charged and implicated. While the opioid epidemic has cost fewer lives in Italy, the criminal intent, prosecutors say, is clear.