Purdue Pharma, top execs plead guilty to misleading marketing of OxyContin

Purdue Pharma and three of its top executives have pleaded guilty to charges of “misbranding” and “fraudulently marketing” its painkiller OxyContin, a federal prosecutor and the company said. To resolve the charges, Purdue has agreed to pay over $600 million in fines for claiming OxyContin was less addictive and less subject to abuse than other pain medications. Purdue’s CEO, top lawyer and former chief medical officer will pay a total of over $34 million in fines, according to the office of US Attorney for the Western District of Virginia John Brownlee. Purdue CEO Michael Friedman, has agreed to pay $19 million in fines. Howard Udell, Purdue’s top lawyer agreed to pay $8 million and Purdue’s former medical director Dr. Paul Goldenheim agreed to pay $7.5 million. The plea agreement came just two days after Purdue agreed to pay $19.5 million to 26 states and the District of Columbia to settle complaints that it encouraged doctors to over prescribe OxyContin. “With its OxyContin, Purdue unleashed a highly abuseable, 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.” According to the US Attorney’s office, Purdue misbranded OxyContin by giving false information to its sales reps that the drug had less potential for addiction and abuse than other painkillers. Purdue Pharma accepted responsibility for its actions and the actions of its employees and said in a statement, “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.” Net sales of OxyContin for 2006 were valued at $694 million, according to Purdue.