OxyContin / Oxycodone Hydrochloride

Modified on 2009/10/14 21:41 by admin
Updated September 2007 -  Only days after agreeing to pay $20
million in civil penalties to 26 states and the District of Columbia, Connecticut-based pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma settled a 4-year investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office regarding the marketing of OxyContin. Under the terms of the settlement, Purdue will pay over $600 million in fines, including $470 million to various government agencies and $130 million to resolve private civil liabilities, as well as maintain the company’s internal abuse and diversion program for OxyContin. As part of the settlement, some of Purdue’s executive officers, specifically President and Chief Operating Officer Michael Friedman, Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer Howard Udell and former Executive Vice President of Worldwide Medical Affairs Paul Goldenheim, will collectively pay over $34.5 million in fines, as well as each plead guilty to a single misdemeanor charge for misbranding the drug OxyContin.

Moreover, Purdue Frederick Company, a subsidiary of Purdue Pharma, entered a guilty plea to a single felony charge for misbranding, in which the company made claims that OxyContin was less addictive and less likely to be abused than other prescription painkillers. Observers such as the Corporate Crime Reporter in Washington, D.C., a consumer advocate group, insist that Purdue Frederick’s guilty plea was a legal tactic used to shield Purdue Pharma from criminal charges, thereby allowing the primary company to continue to do business with the government through programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

Despite the settlement, Purdue Pharma maintains that there is no connection between the allegations in the misbranding plea agreement and the abuse or divergence of OxyContin. Purdue contends that their executives "neither engaged in nor tolerated the misconduct at issue in this investigation", and they admit guilt only for the reason that “high-level officials” can be held responsible for the illegal acts of employees. In an official statement, the drug company admits that prior to July 2001, its employees made, or told other employees to make false statements about OxyContin “related to the risks of addiction, abuse, withdrawal, and tolerance compared to other pain medications.” Purdue’s statement, however, goes on to claim that the company “took steps to prevent any misstatements in the marketing or promotion of OxyContin and to correct any such misstatements” as soon as it became aware of them.

Contrarily, U.S. Attorney John Brownlee said that “Purdue unleashed a highly abusable, addictive, and potentially dangerous drug on an unsuspecting and unknowing public”, despite prior warnings that Purdue received from the media, doctors, and even some of their own sales group. Brownlee added, "For these misrepresentations and crimes, Purdue and its executives have been brought to justice." OxyContin is one of the leading painkillers sold today, with $9.6 billion in retail U.S. sales from 2000 through 2006. The settlement does not limit or restrict Purdue from manufacturing and selling OxyContin, and the company will continue to receive full benefits from federal insurance programs like Medicare.

OxyContin is a narcotic analgesic used to relieve pain. Purdue Pharma manufactures OxyContin. The drug has helped thousands of chronic pain sufferers live more normal lives.

The drug is very popular on the black market because it produces a euphoric high seldom achieved with illicit drugs. Critics of OxyContin are alarmed with the increasing numbers of patients who have become addicted to the drug. Often such addictions lead to accidental deaths from overdoses. Some critics, including a Virginia physician, have called for a ban of OxyContin.

In 2007, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices and the Division of Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, conducted a longitudinal Adverse Events Reporting System Review of the U.S. FDA's most dangerous drugs. The study found oxycodone to be the most dangerous drug on the market with the highest number of suspect drug deaths.  Over the eight years of the study, oxycodone was by far the most lethal drug on the market and was involved in over 5,500 deaths in the eight year period.

See your doctor if you are addicted to OxyContin or if you have experienced serious side effects associated with the drug. In addition, it may be important to contact an attorney who can help you protect your legal rights. Please keep in mind that there may be time limits within which you must commence suit.

Attorneys associated withInjuryBoard.com will evaluate your case free of charge. In addition, you will not pay any fees or costs unless your attorney recovers money for you. Please click on the free AskAn Attorney button to take advantage of this valuable service.

See Also

  1. Painkillers: Overview
  2. Addiction: Overview
  3. Overdose: Overview
  4. OxyContin: Frequently Asked Questions
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