Makers Of OxyContin Admit To Misleading Public About Addictive Nature Of Drug

By: Jon Sonnheim Email
By: Jon Sonnheim Email

Major developments in the court case against the makers of OxyContin. Three executives of that company made guilty pleas acknowledging they misled the public about the addictive nature of the drug.

Many say it comes as no shock to them that OxyContin officials misled the public. In fact, alleging that the pharmaceutical company used aggressive marketing tactics to target rural areas. They say it's those families in Eastern Kentucky and others across the country that lost family members to addiction that had to pay the ultimate price.

It's a pill used to deal with pain and some like the executive director of Operation UNITE say it works when used properly to treat severe cases.

"It's a wonderful drug for individuals with cancer," said Karen Engle, Executive Director of UNITE.

Nearly six years ago, Congressman Hal Rogers says he fought in front of a congressional subcommittee to make sure OxyContin was not prescribed for minimal pain, trying to make sure the pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma did not mislead people on the addictive nature of OxyContin.

"They did nothing about it, and continued to do nothing about it, all the while making billions of dollars on this drug they were overselling," Rogers said.

"We knew what they were doing all along. They looked at doctors who prescribed more frequently pain medications, they tripled their sales force, and they targeted rural areas and the effect is people dying," Engle said.

Thursday, three current and former pharmaceutical executives pleaded guilty to misleading the public and will pay more than $630 million dollars in fines.

"They're settling for $634 million, it's not enough. They need to look into the eyes of the parents who lost children, it's absolutely not enough," Engle said.

Oddly enough, Congressman Rogers says it was an article he read about OxyContin addiction in Eastern Kentucky that ultimately spurred him to create Operation UNITE which of course has been fighting addiction in Eastern Kentucky since 2003.

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