DEA Faults Drug Company
for OxyContin Abuse
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- December 21, 2001 -- Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of the prescription painkiller OxyContin™, is at least partly to blame for the growing abuse of the drug, according to Asa Hutchinson, the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). In his testimony before the House Appropriations subcommittee, Mr. Hutchinson referred to the company's "aggressive marketing and promotion," including taking physicians on expense-paid retreats. The drug has been responsible for 117 deaths in 31 states and is the suspected cause of at least 179 other deaths, according to DEA statistics.
This is not the first time that Purdue Pharma has been accused of unethical business practices. Earlier this year, the state of West Virginia sued the drug manufacturer for knowingly marketing OxyContin™ in a deceptive way to increase profits and corner the market on narcotic pain medication. A lawsuit was also filed by former addicts who claimed that Purdue Pharma failed to disclose the drug's serious potential for addiction. (See Lawsuit Filed Against Makers of OxyContin™).
OxyContin™ is a slow-release opioid painkiller that has been used for terminal cancer patients and others with chronic pain. However, problems occur when the drug is incorrectly prescribed, or gets into the wrong hands. It is potentially abusive because it can give a euphoric high and its time-release mechanism may be circumvented by crushing the tablet.