The Knuckelehead of the Day award
Today's winner is Purdue Pharma L.P. They get the award for the following.
ROANOKE, Va. - The maker of the powerful painkiller OxyContin and three of its current and former executives pleaded guilty Thursday to misleading the public about the drug's risk of addiction, a federal prosecutor and the company said.A corporation as drug pusher. Purdue Pharma ought to count itself lucky that they weren't put out of business. Over 600 million in fines, lawsuits and today's Knucklehead of the Day award will have to suffice. I smell a Knucklehead of the Year award candidate here.
Purdue Pharma L.P., its president, top lawyer and former chief medical officer will pay $634.5 million in fines for claiming the drug was less addictive and less subject to abuse than other pain medications, U.S. Attorney John Brownlee said.
The plea agreement settled a national case and came two days after the Stamford, Conn.-based company agreed to pay $19.5 million to 26 states and the District of Columbia to settle complaints that it encouraged physicians to overprescribe OxyContin.
"With its OxyContin, Purdue unleashed a highly abusable, addictive, and potentially dangerous drug on an unsuspecting and unknowing public," Brownlee said. "For these misrepresentations and crimes, Purdue and its executives have been brought to justice."
Purdue spokesman James Heins objected to any suggestion of ties between the plea agreement and the abuse of OxyContin.
"We promoted the medicine only to health-care professionals, not to consumers," he said in a statement.
Privately held Purdue learned from focus groups with physicians in 1995 that doctors were worried about the abuse potential of OxyContin. The company then gave false information to its sales representatives that the drug had less potential for addiction and abuse than other painkillers, the U.S. attorney said.
Ken Jost of the Justice Department's Office of Consumer Litigation said this case should put pharmaceutical companies on notice that they won't be able to get away with breaking the law to make a profit.
Purdue Pharma said it accepted responsibility for its employees' actions.
"During the past six years, we have implemented changes to our internal training, compliance and monitoring systems that seek to assure that similar events do not occur again," the company said in a news release.
OxyContin, a trade name for oxycodone, is a time-release painkiller that can be highly addictive. Designed to be swallowed whole and digested over 12 hours, the pills can produce a heroin-like high if crushed and then swallowed, snorted or injected.
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