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Aug-10-2010 03:09printcomments

Narcotic Maker Guilty of Deceit Over Marketing

"Into an endless grave I fall. Only God will understand, why I'm more than gone" - Deathalizer

Photographs by Don Petersen for The New York Times From left, Howard R. Udell, the top lawyer for Purdue Pharma; Dr. Paul D. Goldenheim, the company’s former medical director; and Michael Friedman, Purdue’s former president.
Photographs by Don Petersen for The New York Times
From left, Howard R. Udell, the top lawyer for Purdue Pharma; Dr. Paul D. Goldenheim, the company’s former medical director; and Michael Friedman, Purdue’s former president.

(MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.) - Since the criminal prosecution in Federal Court of the three CEO's of Purdue Pharma in July 2007, anyone curious as to what these guys are doing with themselves these days? It's not like they are hurting for money. After all, they made a fortune out of marketing a very dangerous drug called OxyContin as less likely to be addictive or abused resulting in scores of deaths and addictions throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Here's an update on Howard Udell and his attempts to disassociate himself from Purdue Pharma when the right to do business with the federal government was taken away from Udell, Goldenheim and Friedman for their responsibility in failing to prevent the "Misbranding and Fraudulent Distribution of OxyContin."

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Health and Human Services announced Administrative Law Judge Carolyn Cozad Hughes' affirmation of the OIG's 15-year exclusion from all Federal health care programs against the Purdue officials in January 2009.

I wonder if it's a coincidence that in February 2009, Howard Udell sent out the below response email to anyone communicating with him:

US flag artwork by Brian Skolek

Please be advised that I have retired as a Purdue Pharma employee and am now
working as a consultant for Purdue on certain matters.   You may contact me at
my new e-mail address:  You do not have to resend
your message as it has been forwarded to the appropriate e-mail address.  The
remainder of my contact information is unchanged and appears below.  Please make
a note of the new email address for future use. 

Howard R. Udell
Udell Law Office LLC
One Stamford Forum
Stamford, CT 06901
Tel 203 588-7020
Fax 203 588-6204

Udell may have said he has retired as a Purdue Pharma employee in an effort to pull one over on the Inspector General, but Udell's new digs and law office are still located in the Purdue Pharma headquarters building.

Goldenheim joined the NeuroPhage Board of Directors in March 2010. NeuroPhage is advancing a disease-modifying phage-based approach targeted at Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other neurodegenerative diseases. NeuroPhage is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Goldenheim also serves on the board of directors of The Big Apple Circus.

In 2008, an alumnus of New Hampshire's elite Phillips Exeter Academy waged a war against Goldenheim and won. Goldenheim had served on the prestigious board and had been on probation after his 2007 criminal conviction when he pleaded guilty to misbranding OxyContin. Goldenheim stepped down. Board president Harris defended Goldenheim by calling him a "broken man." Harris went on further to say that Goldenheim had "acted in accordance with the highest ethics of his profession" and pleaded guilty "to avoid additional years of litigation and disruption". Harris might like to know that Judge James P. Jones of United States District Court indicated that he was troubled by his inability to send the executives to prison at their sentencing.

Which leaves us with the former president of Purdue Pharma, Michael Friedman. It appears that Friedman spends his "leisure" time supporting a heavy metal group called Deathalizer. I wonder if he had a part in naming the group. In the three years since the criminal conviction, the U.S. Attorney who prosecuted the case against Purdue Pharma -- John Brownlee -- left the office of U.S. Attorney and ran unsuccessfully for Attorney General of Virginia last year. Currently, he is in private law practice with a prestigious firm.

Rudy Giuliani, presidential candidate in 2008, was the lead counsel and the spokesman for Purdue Pharma in 2007. Giuliani was unsuccessful in persuading Brownlee to back down in his charges against Purdue Pharma. This resulted in Purdue Pharma pleading guilty to “misbranding” OxyContin and the company paying a huge fine -- as well as its three top executives having to plead guilty. Brownlee gave the company a deadline to accept these charges or go to court, in which case additional charges would be filed against them. That night Brownlee would later relate to the Senate Judiciary Committee, he got a call at home from Michael Elston, Chief of Staff for Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty. McNulty worked directly for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. A little more than a week later, Brownlee found his name on a list compiled by Elston -- on it were names of U.S. Attorneys whom officials wanted to be considered for firing. Gonzales retired as Attorney General in mid-September of 2007 amid the controversy of the firing of the U.S. Attorneys.

In 2001, Darrell McGraw Jr., the longtime Democratic attorney general of the state of West Virginia, filed a civil case against Purdue Pharma. He alleged that the company had engaged in "coercive and deceptive" marketing of OxyContin. McGraw charged that Purdue Pharma had disseminated misleading advertisements and had promoted the inappropriate use of OxyContin for minor pain. His lawsuit contended that Purdue Pharma had offered doctors free trips to "pain management" seminars where the firm pitched the drug as safe and effective for treating minor pain--without mentioning the drug was supposed to be used only for severe pain and easily abused. McGraw also alleged that Purdue Pharma had told pharmacists that they could "get in trouble if they do not fill prescriptions, even if they believe someone may be an abuser of the drug." He maintained that the firm's underhanded practices had caused users in West Virginia to become addicted to the drug. And he noted that while Purdue's annual sales revenue from OxyContin had surpassed $1 billion, the state of West Virginia was saddled with the cost of treating people who had become addicted due to misuse of the drug encouraged by Purdue Pharma.

The suit was a serious threat to Purdue Pharma and the eventual criminals called in one Eric Holder. Name sound familiar -- as in our current Attorney General? In November 2004, the morning that the case was about to go to trial, our current Attorney General Holder helped negotiate a settlement. Working in the judge's chambers in West Virginia as special counsel to Purdue Pharma, he forged an agreement under which the firm would have to pay $10 million over four years into drug abuse and education programs in West Virginia. Purdue Pharma would not have to admit any wrongdoing. Ten million dollars was nothing to a multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical company and kept the firm's criminal activities from the public eye.

So for anyone questioning how convicted criminals are permitted to thumb their noses at justice -- and allowed to stay in business. It begins with being worth about $10 billion dollars, having no conscience, being given free reign to promote opioids by marketing the phrase "undertreatment of pain" in an effort to encourage physicians to prescribe narcotics -- in particular OxyContin. And for good measure recruit the likes of Rudy Giuliani, Eric Holder and senators such as Tom Coburn of Oklahoma who all defend Purdue Pharma and are richly rewarded by the pharmaceutical company.

I had the privilege of appearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in July 2007 to testify against Purdue Pharma. U.S. Attorney John Brownlee also testified. My then 12 year old grandson, Brian presented Mr. Brownlee with a painting of the American flag he did in appreciation for all the hard work Brownlee and his Department of Justice people did in successfully prosecuting Purdue Pharma.

There are many definitions for the word hero -- Brownlee is one -- and so is a Fed who stood by me for the past eight years whenever I lost hope that the wheels of justice were not going to grind finely -- and encouraged me not to give up hope. You know who you are "my favorite Fed" -- "Some friends are meant to be."

Hopefully in the very near future, I will be be able to commend the FDA for being heroes in ending the OxyContin death and addiction battle we have fought against convicted criminals for over a decade. This "battle" can be won by the FDA reclassifying the drug for severe pain only. "It doesn't take a hero to order men into battle -- it takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle." Norman Schwarzkopf

=========================================== Reporter Marianne Skolek, is an Activist for Victims of OxyContin throughout the United States and Canada. In July 2007, she testified against Purdue Pharma in Federal Court in Virginia at the sentencing of their three CEO's who pled guilty to charges of marketing OxyContin as less likely to be addictive or abused to physicians and patients. She also testified against Purdue Pharma at a Judiciary Hearing of the U.S. Senate in July 2007. Marianne works with government agencies and private attorneys in having a voice for her daughter Jill, who died in 2002 after being prescribed OxyContin, as well as the voice for scores of victims of OxyContin. She has been involved in her work for the past 7-1/2 years and is currently working on a book that exposes Purdue Pharma for their continued criminal marketing of OxyContin.

Marianne is a nurse having graduated in 1991 as president of her graduating class. She also has a Paralegal certification. Marianne served on a Community Service Board for the Courier News, a Gannet newspaper in NJ writing articles predominantly regarding AIDS patients and their emotional issues. She was awarded a Community Service Award in 1993 by the Hunterdon County, NJ HIV/AIDS Task Force in recognition of and appreciation for the donated time, energy and love in facilitating a Support Group for persons with HIV/AIDS.
You can send Marianne an email at:

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Aint No Addict August 19, 2010 6:50 pm (Pacific time)

I take oxycodone pretty much every day..on good days i take less but i don't over do it. Without it i'd be in more pain and its no fun. I am also an omma patient and almost 60 years old. Im no kid and my meds make for a better day. If you are one who doesnt need pain meds ..hooray for you ...dont be so quick to call us all "addicts" Karma just might bite you one day !!! (Thanks Salem-news i enjoy your articles)

Lyse August 18, 2010 3:24 pm (Pacific time)

I Think I have a three prong solution for oxycontin abuse; PERMANENT prescription montioring from moment of diagnosis to death. The second solution is mandantory training of ALL physician on proper pain treatment techniques. and the last, a national drug court specially aimed at opiate addicts

Sad August 11, 2010 9:50 am (Pacific time)

Oxycontin is a pain medication. It is not meant for personal recreation. The ones that die from Oxycontin are drug addicts. It is a sad reality that people allow themselves to be the victims of a game instigated by an ambitious, manipulative politician, instead of treating these people like heroes for developing medicine to ease pain and suffering.
 Learn the facts. 

EDITOR:  Your opinion is categorically incorrect. The facts are: all people that die from Oxycontin are NOT addicts; and all prescribing doctors are not heroes. 

Traci August 11, 2010 9:30 am (Pacific time)

More then likely NY is one of the people on Oxycontin. They always defend it.

Anonymous August 10, 2010 7:16 pm (Pacific time)

People who suffer from severe pain require prescription narcotics. I don't know how these compare to morphine and others, but to argue against pain pills just because they could be abused is bizarre.

tim August 10, 2010 2:09 pm (Pacific time)

As noted, if given only to people who have severe enough pain and monitored by a doctor things would be different. I have to go to the pharmacy every day for my dose making sure i cannot take more than prescribed. It has helped me, maybe to some it might be a "pain" to go pick it up everyday but if u r in real pain, it is worth it....

Anonymous August 10, 2010 11:49 am (Pacific time)

I completely disagree that this drug is fine when used in proper context. There is no proper context in regards to this drug. Same with alcohol, as previous poster mentioned. But, editors note from mentioned post, is the real bottom line on this particular subject. False marketing. Not from editor: just adding: false marketing without oversight by the FDA.

Editor: Well now you are making me jump to the other side of this, I am just saying that there are people whose bodies need really intense drugs.  I hope everybody can avoid ingesting anything that they don't need, but it is my belief that this is safe when used properly under a doctor's care, most of the time.   

Anonymous August 10, 2010 9:54 am (Pacific time)

Thanks for the article. The more articles that come out like this, help my shouts that our country has been taken over by corporations more credible. And I would not hold my breath in regards to the FDA doing the right thing, they are bought and paid for. the best money can buy. We are on our own folks.

NY August 10, 2010 9:38 am (Pacific time)

First of all who cares what Purdue Pharma said about Oxycontin, the bottom line is that is is a narcotic which means that it is addictive and if the medication is used correctly there is absolutely no problem when used correctly. Why do the people that use it correctly have to suffer because certain people want to abuse this medication and then go overdose on it, that is there problem. By the way alcohol has killed way more people than Oxycontin and nobody has done anything to remove that from the market, I think people need to get there priorities straight. At least Oxycontin has an important medical use to provide pain relief and alcohol has no positive benefits at all.

Below are some alcohol death statistics:

Here are some death related statistics concerning Alcohol use.
(This was done about 10 years ago) and it seems like nobody has done anything to remove alcohol from the market, and there are people worried about Oxycontin. I think people should get there priorities straight. At least Oxycontin has a medical use to treat pain and alcohol for drinking purpose's has none. I am sure that those numbers have gone up since then.

Something to Consider:
People tend to focus on the deaths that result from the abuse of oxycodone. I'd like to point out a few statistics related to another drug widely used in the United States, alcohol:

In 1999, there were 28,109 deaths attributed to cirrhosis of the liver resulting from alcohol abuse.
In 2000, there were 13,050 alcohol related traffic fatalities.
Of those 13,050, 9,073 were the drivers in alcohol related traffic crashes
3,396 were passengers in those crashes
570 were not occupants
Thus, those 9,073 alcohol-impaired drivers not only cause their own deaths, they took 3,973 other people with them.
The 13,050 deaths comprised 31.1% of all traffic fatalities for 2000.
In 2002, alcohol-related traffic crash deaths were estimated to be responsible for 405,170 years of potential life lost.

Editor: This drug is fine when used in the proper context, that is true, but to comprehend that it was initially marketed as non lethal and non addictive to doctors is a travesty and it was, quite obviously, a serious crime against Americans.  So take your advocacy for this high addictive drug and keep moving down your little freeway, you don't need to exit here because we do not like company shills too much in these parts. 

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