Purdue Pharma Tries to Block Oxy Revelations

By Jed Bickman 01/04/12

The manufacturers of OxyContin react to the threat of disclosures that might prove they lied (again) about their addictive drug.

Purdue's handling of its drug is highly
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Purdue Pharma—the makers of OxyContin—seems only now to have noticed a 2008 lawsuit seeking the release of a cache of documents that could reveal criminal misbranding and mismanagement of Oxy. Their lawyers are seeking to block the disclosures. The documents were compiled by the US Department of Justice, which won a guilty plea and a settlement from Purdue Pharma in 2007, when Purdue pled guilty to misbranding OxyContin: despite unambiguous FDA wording that OxyContin was just as addictive as other (generic) oxycodone products on the market, Purdue told doctors that because OxyContin is an extended release formulation, it's less addictive than its competitors. Oxycodone has become America’s number one addiction. More people are hooked on oxy than heroin and cocaine combined, and figures released this fall showed OxyContin kills more people than traffic accidents nationwide. Purdue made $1.3 billion dollars last year off sales of the drug.

In 2007, 26 states, including Massachusetts, filed lawsuits parallel with the federal DoJ one. Massachusetts won a million-dollar settlement. A year later, Brown University Professor of Family Medicine David Egilman filed a Massachusetts suit to secure the release of the documents that the Department of Justice (via that state Attorney General) used to secure the guilty plea. Prof. Egilman believes that the documents in the Purdue case will not only reveal misdeeds by the drug manufacturer, but also FDA incompetence. The Attorney General of Massachusetts has so far refused to release the documents, saying it would not be in the public interest.

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Jed Bickman is a journalist and copywriter living in the greater New York City area. He is the associate editor at The New Press. You can find him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.