American drug companies have become incredibly aggressive in their advertising to consumers, physicians, and hospitals. Perhaps to illegal levels in some instances. This week, the manufacturer of Oxycontin, a powerful long-acting narcotic painkiller approved by the Food and Drug Adminstration in 1995, agreed to pay $ 600 million in fines and other payments for “misbranding” the drug. Three top executives also pled guilty to misdemeanors related to the misbranding.
Purdue Pharma and its executives admitted in federal court that they had misled doctors and patients, representing that oxycontin was less likely to be abused than traditional narcotics because of its time release formula. This false representation was at the core of an aggressive marketing campaign that sold over $ 1 billion worth of oxycontin per year.
In fact, oxycontin was nothing more than a pure and stronger version of a long used narcotic, oxycodone. It didn’t take long for experienced drug users and novices alike to learn that chewing a tablet, or crushing and snorting or injecting the drug, would produce a powerful high akin to heroin use. By 2000, areas in the U.S. saw skyrocketing crime and drug abuse rates related to oxycontin abuse. According to testimony in the federal court, the results were rising crime rates, teenage drug addiction and many deaths. According to the director of the health research group at Public Citizen, “The damage to the public from these white collared drug pushers surely exceeds the collective damage done by traditional street drug pushers.”
Drugs, whether approved by the FDA or not, can be harmful. Research any medication you are prescribed. Don’t blindly follow your doctor’s advice. Find out what the potential side effects may be before you take it. Find out whether it can be addictive or otherwise harmful. And remember, you cannot always rely on the company selling the product to tell you everything you need to know. In which case, you made need attorneys experienced in pharmaceutical product liability litigation.