OxyContin makers fined $635 million in pharma scandal
OyxContin makers fined for marketing powerful heroin-like drug with addictive properties...
UPDATE: ABINGDON, Va. (AP) A federal judge has fined Purdue Pharma L.P., the maker of OxyContin, and three executives $634.5 million for misleading the public about its risk of addiction.
Apparently the scene at the courthouse was quite poignant - with families of victims mounting a silent demonstration. We're still looking for video. (In the meantime I have uploaded a clip from The Young Turks in which Ben Mankiewicz talks about the relationship of Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Guiliani with Purdue Pharma (a clip from the NY Times about this can be found at the bottom of this post.))
In May, an affiliate of Purdue Pharma, Purdue Frederick, pleaded guilty to a felony charge that it misbranded the drug by falsely claiming to doctors and patients for six years that the long-acting narcotic posed a lower risk of abuse and addiction than those competing painkillers.
To settle the charge, the company agreed to pay $600 million in fines and other penalties, one of the largest fines every paid by a drug manufacturer.
Purdue Pharma’s claim that OxyContin, because of its time-release formula, posed a lower threat to patients than traditional, faster-acting painkillers was the cornerstone of an aggressive marketing campaign for the drug.
Within a few years of its introduction in 1995, annual sales of OxyContin reached $1 billion, and it soon accounted for more than 90 percent of Purdue Pharma’s sales.
Separately, the three executives — Michael Friedman, its president until recently; Howard R. Udell, its top lawyer; and Dr. Paul D. Goldenheim, its former medical director — pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of misbranding. Together, they agreed to pay $34.5 million in fines.
"The company’s defenders included the former New York mayor, Rudolph W. Giuliani,
whose firm was hired in 2002 by Purdue Pharma as part of a crisis
management strategy and to improve security at its manufacturing plant.
recently, Mr. Giuliani, acting as a lawyer for Purdue, took part in
several meetings last year between Justice Department officials and
defense lawyers for the company and individual executives.
Hillis, a spokeswoman for the Bracewell & Giuliani law firm, which
is based in Houston, said that Purdue Pharma was a client of the firm.
She said Mr. Giuliani had not been involved in representing the company
for several months.