WEST LAFAYETTE – In December 2017, when Lafayette joined the parade of cities and communities suing a dozen manufacturers and distributors of opioids, a call came to the newsroom from a well-placed friend of Purdue University.

“Don’t you think,” he pleaded, “you could do something to make it clear that it’s not that Purdue?”

At issue: Purdue Pharma, the New York-based pharmaceutical company behind OxyContin, was among those firms being sued for its role in instigating what municipalities – Lafayette, West Lafayette and Tippecanoe County – say is an addiction crisis sapping community resources.

That same sort of plea came, again, this week from the West Lafayette campus, after Purdue Pharma landed in the headlines, on news that the company might go bankrupt as a way to deal with the mounting liability of more than 1,500 lawsuits.

The statement, emailed to any media outlet that would listen:

“Purdue University is not and has never been affiliated in any way with Purdue Pharma. 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.”

Tim Doty, a Purdue University spokesman, said that statement isn’t necessarily new. And he said it wasn’t prompted by calls from the media looking for the university’s reaction about dealings at Purdue Pharma. But second references in national media that simply call the pharmaceutical company “Purdue” can cause heartburn on the West Lafayette campus.

“We just have that on standby,” Doty said Friday. “We put it out there whenever you see Purdue Pharma getting some press. … We can’t control what people write. We just want people do know that it’s not connected in anyway, and we hope some people will think to include that.”

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