Filed under: Drug Politics
May 10, 2007 : OxyContin Pleads Guilty
Three top pharmaceutical executives pleaded guilty Thursday to lying to the public about whether the popular painkiller Oxycontin is addictive.
In a multi-million dollar deal Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty to illegally marketing the drug for years.
Prosecutors say Purdue Pharma knew more than a decade ago its drug was highly addictive.
“The illegal conduct here was intended to maximize profits at the consumers’ expense,” says Kenneth Jost of the Justice Department’s Office of Consumer Litigation.
Oxycontin is prescribed for chronic pain.
The Drug Enforcement Agency reports that in its first five years prescriptions soared to six million, deaths went up 400 percent and crime, from street addicts to pharmacists selling it illegally, rose as much as 75 percent.
The government claims Purdue Pharma trained sales reps to tell doctors Oxycontin was less addictive than other narcotics.
“All of the narcotics, or opiates — the medical term — are potentially addictive…my opinion is that there is no difference in the addictive potential of any of these drugs,” says Dr. Michael Stanton-Hicks, a pain management expert at the Cleveland Clinic.
The company pleaded guilty to a felony.
Its C-E-O, top lawyer, and former medical officer each got misdemeanors.
They’ll pay more than 634-million in fines.
Ok, that $634 million fine got headlines. It’s the really big news. The company lied to the public about Oxy’s risks.
But it’s the $20 million fine levelled at Purdue two days ago is really telling. It didn’t get the same headline coverage, however it was in relations to the company deliberately encouraged doctors to over prescribe. That’s wild!
State attorneys general said the company urged doctors to prescribe OxyContin every eight hours instead of the 12-hour dose approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
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