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OxyContin Makers Plead Guilty to Deceiving Public About Drug's Addictiveness

May 10, 2007 04:44 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Executives from The Purdue Frederick Co., maker of the painkiller OxyContin, have admitted that the company’s sales staff told doctors, despite knowledge to the contrary, that the drug was hard to abuse and less addictive than other pain medications.

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Like heroin, OxyContin is derived from the opium poppy and can be highly addictive; when crushed and then swallowed, snorted, or injected, the drug can also produce a heroinlike high.

Despite knowledge of OxyContin’s addictive dangers, the Purdue Frederick Co. fraudulently marketed the drug by telling doctors that not only was it hard to abuse, but it was less addictive than other pain medications, and wouldn’t create withdrawal symptoms in patients.

The drugmaker has now admitted its public deception, agreeing to pay $635 million to settle charges of fraudulent marketing filed by one of Virginia’s State Attorneys.

Since being approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1995, OxyContin has become a highly sought after street drug in the eastern United States. The painkiller made regular headlines during the late ‘90s and early 2000s as reports of teen abuse, pharmacy robberies, and high-profile addictions proliferated in the media.

The settlement is reminiscent of the case against the tobacco industry, in which “Big Tobacco” agreed to pay $246 billion for misleading the public about the health risks of smoking. 

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