Giuliani represented Purdue Pharma which deceived public on OxyContin addiction

Associated Press| May 11, 2007

You know the dealer, the dealer is a man
With the love grass in his hand

Oh but the pusher is a monster
Good God, he’s not a natural man

The dealer for a nickel
Lord, will sell you lots of sweet dreams

Ah, but the pusher ruin your body
Lord, he’ll leave your, he’ll leave your mind to scream

– The Pusher – lyrics and music by Hoyt Axton

giuliani_kbe

Sir Giuliani proudly displaying his Knight Commander of the British Empire medal from the Queen

Giuliani and his consulting firm Giuliani Partners have represented Purdue since January 2002, the same month the former mayor left office and a time when both regulatory and public concerns were cresting over a drug that brought in more than $1 billion a year but also had been linked to hundreds of deaths and produced a plague of abuse and addiction.
 
In a case that could stoke unwelcome interest in one of presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani’s first private consulting contracts, the maker of the controversial painkiller OxyContin and three top executives pleaded guilty yesterday to misleading the public about addiction risks.

In the plea deal, Purdue Pharma of Stamford, Conn., and the three current and former officials agreed to pay $634.5 million in fines for falsely claiming between 1995 and June 2001 that its drug was less addictive than other painkillers. Future marketing will be monitored.

“Purdue unleashed a highly abusable, addictive and potentially dangerous drug on an unsuspecting and unknowing public,” said Virginia U.S. Attorney John Brownlee at a news conference in Roanoke.

Giuliani and his consulting firm Giuliani Partners have represented Purdue since January 2002, the same month the former mayor left office and a time when both regulatory and public concerns were cresting over a drug that brought in more than $1 billion a year but also had been linked to hundreds of deaths and produced a plague of abuse and addiction.

As part of the deal, Giuliani agreed to help Purdue develop an early warning network to spot prescription abuse trends, develop education programs to help police and medical professionals prevent improper diversion of the drug, work on smuggling issues, and review plant and supply chain security.

Giuliani also helped the company fight on the public relations and regulatory front. He agreed to head up a group called Rx Action Alliance, which would publicly advocate for a “balance” between checking abuse and making sure painkillers were still available to everyone who needed them, and still is identified as chairman on the group’s Web site.

He also attended meetings Purdue executives had with Drug Enforcement Administration officials investigating illicit diversion of OxyContin, and put his post-Sept. 11 credibility behind the company with public statements. “Purdue has demonstrated its commitment to fighting this problem … ,” Giuliani said in a May 2002 press release.

A Giuliani aide pointed out yesterday that part of his firm’s business is helping companies in trouble, and he became involved six months after the illegal conduct that was part of yesterday’s guilty plea.

Even after Giuliani stepped in, however, Purdue’s commercial conduct continued to attract criticism. As late as January 2003, for example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned Purdue that it was continuing to “grossly overstate the safety profile” of OxyContin in ads.

Giuliani’s political foes were publicly silent about his Purdue role, but some drug-safety watchdogs argued that years later the company’s distribution of OxyContin continues to raise questions.

“It’s still too widely used,” said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, head of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group. “So I think there’s still a big problem out there.”

Oxycontin case

THE DRUG. OxyContin, a trade name for oxycodone, is a time-release painkiller that can be highly addictive. The pills can produce a heroinlike high if crushed and then swallowed, snorted or injected.

THE COVER-UP. Purdue Pharma learned from focus groups with physicians in 1995 that doctors were worried about the drug’s potential for abuse. The company then gave false information to its sales representatives that the drug had less potential for addiction and abuse than other painkillers.

THE PLEA DEAL. Purdue, its president, top lawyer and former chief medical officer will pay $634.5 million in fines. The plea agreement settled a national case and came two days after the company agreed to pay $19.5 million to 26 states and the District of Columbia to settle complaints that it encouraged physicians to overprescribe the drug.

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