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Opioid Epidemic Rages as DOJ Refuses a Freedom of Information (FOI) RequestMarianne Skolek-Perez Salem-News.com Investigative Reporter
There is an attorney in N.J. I refer to as the "Lone Ranger" fighting the prescription opioid epidemic destroying lives in the tens of thousands by taking appropriate legal action. His name is Richard (Rick) Hollawell.
(MYRTLE BEACH, SC) - Attorney Richard Hollawell has been seeking the very sought-after 120 page report on Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin that caused the US Attorney's office in Abingdon, VA to charge the pharmaceutical company in 2007 with criminally marketing their killer drug.
Three executives from Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty in Federal Court to the charges, Michael Friedman, Howard Udell and Paul Goldenheim. No prison time was imposed and business continued as usual for Purdue Pharma. So much so that eleven years later their profits surpass $30 billion with death and addiction tolls in the tens of thousands.
This bombshell of a report for some reason is sealed although a "New York Times" reporter who wrote a book years ago on the opioid epidemic claims to have a copy of that report.
Do you question how many thousands of lives could have been saved if this report had been made public in 2007 and someone like Richard Hollawell as the "Lone Ranger" took appropriate criminal action against all the guilty parties of Purdue Pharma?
Here are copies of Mr. Hollawell's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the report that should have "sealed" Purdue Pharma's fate, but instead the Department of Justice (DOJ) has denied the FOIA request and sealed the fate of thousands of future victims of not only Purdue Pharma's greed and disregard for human life, but other pharmaceutical companies now having a precedent to follow in FOIA requests being refused.
Mr. Hollawell's FOIA request:
U.S. Department of Justice "full denial" of FOIA request by Mr. Hollawell
August 23, 2018
Your request for records under the Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act has been processed. This letter constitutes a reply from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, the official record-keeper for all records located in this office and the various United States Attorneys' Office.
To provide you with the greatest degree of access authorized by the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act, we have considered your request in light of the provisions of both statutes.
The records you seek are located in a Privacy Act system of records that, in accordance with regulations promulgated by the Attorney General, is exempt from the access provisions of the Privacy Act. 28 CFR § 16.81. We have also processed your request under the Freedom of Information Act and are making all records required to be released, or considered appropriate for release as a matter of discretion, available to you. This letter is a [ ] partial [ x] full denial.
The exemption( s) cited for withholding records or portions of records are marked below. An enclosure to this letter explains the exemptions in more detail.
List of Exemptions: (b)(3), FRCrP6(e), (b)(5), (b)(7)(C)
This is the final action on this above-numbered request. If you are not satisfied with my response to this request, you may administratively appeal by writing to the Director, Office of Information Policy (OIP), United States Department of Justice, Suite 11050, 1425 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20530-0001, or you may submit an appeal through OIP's FOIAonline portal by creating an account on the following website:https://foiaonline.regulations.gov/foia/action/public/home. Your appeal must be postmarked or electronically transmitted within ninety (90) days of the date of my response to your request. If you submit your appeal by mail, both the letter and the envelope should be clearly marked "Freedom of Information Act Appeal."
You may contact our FOIA Public Liaison at the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA) for any further assistance and to discuss any aspect of your request. The contact information for EOUSA is 175 N Street, NE, Suite 5.400, Washington, DC 20530; telephone at 202-252-6020; or facsimile 202-252-6048. Additionally, you may contact the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) at the National Archives and Records Administration to inquire about the FOIA mediation services they offer. The contact information for OGIS is as follows: Office of Government Information Services, National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road-OGIS, College Park,Maryland 20740-6001; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; telephone: 202-741 -5770; toll free: 1-877-684-6448; or facsimile: 202-741-5769.
Hollawell has not given up even with a "full denial" of a FOIA by the DOJ, he reached out to Margaret E. McCarthy of Yale University (https://law.yale.edu/margaret-e-mccarthy) connecting with her as a result of a recent "New York Times" article.
The article explains how corrupt drug companies with the blessing of the FDA caused fentanyl drugs to be prescribed to two of his clients who subsequently died. In his correspondence with McCarthy, he references people dying every day and the fact that this Purdue Pharma report should have been released.
The "New York Times" link is shown here: www.nytimes.com/2018/08/02/health/fda-fentanyl-opioid-epidemic-overdose-cancer.html.
If anyone doubts the perseverance and determination of Rick Hollawell to obtain justice for victims of the prescription opioid epidemic, I offer the following.
I wrote about Hollawell when he traveled to Washington, DC to testify in front of Missouri U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill about fraud committed against the daughter of a client by the executives of Insys Therapeutics, maker of fentanyl resulting in the daughter's death in 2016.
U.S. Sen. McCaskill conducted an investigation into Insys Therapeutics and released a REPORT and AUDIO implicating the company in deceitful marketing of a very dangerous opioid. The audio was made a part of McCaskill's report and was provided by Hollawell.
Employees claiming to be from doctors' offices used a toll-free phone number — later traced to Insys Therapeutics — to call insurance providers and give false information about patients to increase profits in prescribing Subsys to unsuspecting patients — who did not have cancer.
His work in the case against Insys Therapeutics (Estate of Sarah Fuller) has been integral in exposing the fraud of Insys executives who have been charged criminally and face trial in early 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts.
The DOJ may have their eyes "wide shut" in giving Rick Hollawell a full denial of his FOIA request, but the "Lone Ranger" is far from riding into the sunset. It is about justice -- in every sense of the word and not cover-up.
Where is the posse that should be riding behind Rick Hollawell?
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