Author: Justin Mckibben
Big Pharma has been called out several times in the past couple years for pricing, aggressive marketing and misrepresenting their products. Big Pharma companies have also been called to court a few times for the contribution prescription opioid drugs have made on the opioid epidemic that has damaged the country. The financial and emotional toll of the opioid epidemic has hit hard in several states. South Florida is no exception. Delray Beach has experienced their fair share of strain from the opioid problem, especially when it had been an epicenter of the huge illegal pill mill problem.
Now community leaders in Delray Beach are seeking restitution from the Big Pharma empires, making it the first city in Florida to take this shot at holding Big Pharma accountable.
The Big Suit
That’s why the Delray Beach commission Tuesday decided to sue drug makers for the part they played in the heroin crisis. The city has enlisted the national law firm of Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd from their office based in Boca Raton. So far the suit has set its sights on at least 8 major drug makers and distributors. Two of these have already seen similar cases; Purdue Pharma and McKesson Corp.
Mayor of Delray Beach, Cary Clickstein, has stated:
“With virtually no help from our federal government and little from our state … cities like ours are now frantically searching for answers for our own population,”
“We’re right for turning our eyes to those who are known conspirators in this ongoing atrocity.”
According to the law firm representing Delray Beach, the Big Pharma companies being pursued are responsible for:
- Downplaying the addictive nature of opioids
- Forcing the burden of dealing with the resultant overdoses on state, county and city governments
One of the more impressive features of this case is that the lawsuit won’t cost the city of Delray Beach. The expenses will be covered by Robbins Geller. However, the case supposedly has the potential to garner millions in damages for the parties pressing the matter.
According to a partner of the law firm, who compared the Big Pharma tactics to the now infamous tactics of Big Tobacco,
“They went out and said that opioids are less than 1 percent addictive. That is obviously not true.”
The Mayor and the law firm seem hopeful, while other states have been laying the groundwork for these powerful fights.
States VS Big Pharma
Back in 2015, two counties in California sought damages against 5 Big Pharma companies for the same reasons, and in no time at all the case had been dismissed. However, recently one of these drug company agreed to pay 1.6 million for substance abuse treatment to settle the lawsuit. 4 others remain as defendants in this ongoing battle.
In 2014, Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel took a similar stance, but in 2015 the case was also dismissed. However, the court did state in one of these cases:
“The Purdue entities made misstatements about opioids on their own websites with the intention that Chicago doctors and consumers rely on those misrepresentations are sufficient to state claims against the Purdue entities for violations…”
And while U.S. District Judge Jorge L. Alonso dismissed many of the complaints, the battle over whether these companies deliberately misrepresented the drug benefits and risks continues.
Even recently Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced the state is suing 5 pharmaceutical companies, including:
- Purdue Pharma
- Endo Health Solutions
- Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and subsidiary Cephalon
- Johnson & Johnson and subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals
- Allergan, formerly known as Actavis
There are numerous other suits that have been filed against Big Pharma companies.
- Four counties in New York
- The Cherokee Nationfiled a lawsuit against distributors and pharmacies in tribal court over the opioid epidemic.
- The city of Everett, Washington
While some of these suits may go over better than others, the fact is Big Pharma is under some serious scrutiny.
Delray Beach Making a Case
The Delray Beach lawsuit will seek damages based on the claims that drug makers and distributors violated laws of:
- State consumer protection
- Public nuisance
- Unjust enrichment
According to city officials, every overdose in Delray Beach costs the city about $2,000 in manpower and lifesaving materials. With 690 overdoses last year, that puts the bill around $1,380,000. The only problem is finding a way to prove that pharmaceutical companies can be linked to these overdoses. While many, if not all, of those overdoses were heroin-related, the city may still have grounds to go after opioid drug makers in Big Pharma because these dangerous drugs are considered an underlying problem in the opioid epidemic.
Between 72 and 82 opioid prescriptions are written for every 100 people in Florida, the law firm reports.
While the law firm anticipates other governing bodies will join as plaintiffs, Delray Beach leaders insist they will not wait for other plaintiffs to join the lawsuit. At this point there is not telling how long the lawsuit will last.
There should definitely be accountability for the damage that has been done thanks to the misrepresentation of drug risks and benefits. The misguided and underestimated use of powerful opioids has destroyed countless lives over the years. But beyond holding Big Pharma accountable, there should also be some effort put forth by the state and community officials to promote safe and effective addiction treatment. Innovative and holistic recovery programs can make a huge impact. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
The subject has been discussed repeatedly over time; how has the abuse and addiction associated with OxyContin become such a huge issue, and how was it ever allowed to happen? We have said before that the makers of OxyContin fed the public misinformation about the addictive nature of the drug, but we wanted to take a moment to initiate a more in depth conversation about how this powerful prescription drug became a pillar of the opiate epidemic- and about the lies behind Big Pharma that made it possible.
12 Hour Deception
When the Big Pharma company Purdue Pharmaceuticals inducted OxyContin into their catalog over two decades ago their marketing strategy for this new drug was centered around one big boast- that one dose would relieve pain for 12 hours. At the time this would be a medication lasting twice as long as generic painkillers, which promised patients would no longer be stopped in their tracks or pulled from their sleep to take their medication.
Purdue told doctors one pill in the morning and one before bed would provide what they so generously described as “smooth and sustained pain control all day and all night.” Quickly this claim earned the company an estimated $31 billion as OxyContin took its place as America’s bestselling painkiller. The big problem- the drug doesn’t last as long as advertised.
OxyContin actually wears off hours before the 12 hour mark for many people according to a Los Angeles Times investigation. Even more disturbing was that upon digging into Purdue Pharmaceuticals confidential records, they discovered Purdue has known about this issue before OxyContin ever hit the market. Clinical trials showed many patients didn’t get the 12 hours of relief they were promised.
The Companies Response
Since 1996 when OxyContin hit the market, the Big Pharma bully Purdue has been confronted with the issue. New evidence has been brought forward in the form of:
- Complaints from Doctors
- Complaints from patients
- Reports from its own sales reps
- Independent research reports
And how did they respond? They stuck to their guns and instead of re-evaluating their tag-line they simply told doctors to prescribe stronger doses when a patient said the relief didn’t last instead of suggesting more frequent doses. They acted as if simply giving people more of the drug at once made up for the fact it wasn’t living up to its expectations of effectiveness.
This led to the current climate of OxyContin, with public health officials saying more than half of long-term OxyContin users are prescribed doses that are dangerously high. And higher doses create higher chances of overdose and death.
Why keep up the lie? Well because the statement of 12 hour relief was the only reason OxyContin held any advantage over less expensive medications, and the Big Pharma pushers were dominating the drug market with bottles of pills costing up to $100 only because of the 12 hour duration. Purdue had to protect its reputation and revenue, so it neglected the truth.
How the Truth Hurts
Over the last 20 years the federal governments National Survey on Drug Use and Health has shown that well over 7 million Americans have abused OxyContin, which has become a target of blame for the nation’s opiate epidemic. Since 1999 OxyContin and other painkillers have claimed more than 190,000 lives from overdose death, and addiction rates with heroin have risen continuously alongside of opiate medication abuse.
Experts have warned that when there are gaps in the effect of a narcotic like OxyContin, patients can suffer a variety of withdrawals including:
These issues along with the need for pain relief create an instinctual response from patients to take another dose of this potent narcotic, fueling the cycle of pain and euphoria that adapts into addiction.
Despite the outcries against this Big Pharma plague, OxyContin has not lost its popularity. In 2015 alone doctors wrote 5.4 million prescriptions, and according to a Purdue spokesman, 80% were for 12-hour dosing. Even now if physicians contact Purdue to question dosing, they insist only 12 hour dosing has been proven safe (if that’s what you call safe) and the trend of higher doses for those not finding relief has not fallen off.
So instead of throwing in the towel for their 12 hour problem, the company says just to pump people with more potency as if that is the key to having a healthier relationship with your medication. The big lie that made this Big Pharma cash-cow such a big problem is that 12 hours is all you need, when really they have always known it wasn’t enough. The lie has supplied some of the kindling for one of the biggest fires to burn up resources, scorch homes and maim families in the past few decades, and the company is still insisting it is the only logic they need to keep selling it.
Since OxyContin was approved by the FDA for use in children as young as 11 years old, more people have been paying attention to the way Purdue Pharma markets its product. While the company has overcome various lawsuits brought against it, other officials have worked to restrict their marketing capabilities. No matter how you look at it, this whole deception has created a problem it would take a hell of a lot more than 12 hours to fix, and some people will be fighting it forever.
As for recovery from OxyContin abuse and addiction, there are those who still stand to make a contribution towards life-saving changes. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Wow. That was faster than expected…
Recently the story came out on a suit filed against 5 big names from Big Pharma for questionable marketing practices and their relation to overwhelming prescription drug overdose deaths, asking the question- is it adequate justice to pursue Big Pharma companies with legal action, and will the punishment fit the crime?
Well it seems that according to a report posted by the Los Angeles Times before the metaphorical ink on that blog even had time to dry the lawsuit filed by two California counties seeking damages for the impact of the Big Pharma marketing schemes on the prescription drug epidemic has already been put on hold indefinitely.
The case posed against these 5 pharmaceutical giants was squashed quickly and dismissed by Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert J. Moss. The case had been filed by both Orange and Santa Clara counties last year, and so far the story reads this dismissal is to allow the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) time to complete a pending inquiry into the safety and efficacy of painkillers across the board.
Getting Up to Speed
Just as a bit of a back-track… in case you are unfamiliar or never got to read the last article… the lawsuit alleged that several Big Pharma companies knowingly violated California laws by falsely advertising their products, while actively manipulating doctors into believing that the benefits of these potent prescription drugs outweighed the risks, and leading many doctors across Southern California to prescribe opiate drugs which later caused fatal overdoses.
In fact, according to an investigation published by the Los Angeles Times back in 2012, nearly half of the deaths involving prescription drugs in Southern California between the year 2006 and 2011 involved at least one drug prescribed by a doctor, and it identified 71 Southern California doctors who had prescribed drugs to three or more patients who fatally overdosed. Several of these physicians were in Orange County.
The 5 companies included in the case were:
- Endo Health Solutions
- Janssen Pharmaceuticals
- Purdue Pharma
Endo Health Solutions is the company that produces Percocet and Percodan, while Purdue Pharma as been getting a lot of attention as the company responsible for OxyContin, another powerful batch of opiate that was mislabeled as safer than other prescription painkillers. Both Percocet and OxyContin are well known as usual suspects in the link between Big Pharma and the opiate epidemic in America, so this comes as no surprise.
Picking a Side
When it came down to it, Big Pharma insisted that the case not be dealt with by a judge in this format. Purdue Pharma especially stood and spoke about how they believed it should be put in the hands of a different authority, arguing that the case be dismissed by the Orange County court on the grounds that the FDA had exclusive jurisdiction over such investigations. In a statement Purdue Pharma officials said,
“We are pleased that Judge Moss agreed that complex scientific issues regarding the treatment of chronic pain are best decided by the FDA, the agency with relevant expertise,”
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, who has pursued the case against the Big Pharma titans was not as pleased about the decision to leave this up to the FDA. Rackauckas told the Los Angeles Times that he was even considering an appeal of the dismissal. The DA has been very involved in this case, and believes these companies need to be held accountable for the lives damaged by Big Pharma for a profit of pill pushing.
Some are still holding out hope for a different kind of decision, adamant that Big Pharma should be held up to scrutiny for their marketing strategies that have thus far influenced a growing issue with opiate abuse and addiction. While the California case has been put on a permanent hold, Chicago and Kentucky have not given up hope for their own pursuit of justice.
So what do we think? Will it ever come?
At the end of the day, drug abuse is a reality, and people all over the world will always find a way to get high off of substances that definitively cause far more harm than good. Addiction is a monster that finds its way into the lives of people everywhere and destroys them, and prescription painkillers are definitely one of the worst offenders in the current drug climate.
So should Big Pharma be on the chopping block?
No matter our individual and diverse opinions on who to blame, addiction happens… but so does recovery. Thousands of men and women around the world recover every single day, and they do it with a sense of community and a new sense of self and direction that begins with making the right choices. Put yourself in a better position to make a better choice. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
There is no doubt most people have already heard or read something about how the FDA recently approved the powerful opiate painkiller OxyContin to be prescribed and administered to children as young as 11 years old. This decision of course has been met with seething caldrons of concern and uproar as people are still living in the turmoil created by prescription drug abuse and the heroin epidemic it has helped create.
Well in efforts to curb the shock-wave of distress from citizens about what this will do to the ever-progressing opiate addiction problem New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman recently announced an agreement with Stamford-based Purdue Pharma to restrict its opioid marketing efforts.
Purdue Pharma Pill Problems
OxyContin is the brand name for a potent oxycodone pill distributed by Purdue Pharma that initially caused quite a bit of problems for the company back in 2007 when a huge trial aired out the reality that despite their claims the drug did not have a high risk of abuse or addiction there were scores of addicts and drug abusers created by this medication.
Purdue then had to pay out $635 million in criminal fines after pleading guilty to false marketing charges after scores of reports had been pouring in of patients becoming addicted to this potent pain medication.
Purdue also had to pony-up and put some money down. Part of the settlement required Purdue Pharma pay $75,000 in penalties and costs.
Changing a Bad Business
Schneiderman, in a prepared statement, said Purdue Pharma agreed to “important business practice changes” to help avoid issues with over-prescription and to help in fighting against the opiate epidemic. Schneiderman said:
“Over the past two decades, New York has experienced a sharp increase in opioid addiction and that has coincided with the substantially increased sale of oxycodone. The public health crisis created by opioid overprescribing in New York remains pervasive and extremely dangerous. My office will work to ensure that prescription drugs are marketed and prescribed responsibly — and that consumers get the information they need about the risks of addiction to painkillers.”
Between the 1990s and 2011
- Prescriptions of oxycodone more than doubled in the U.S.
- Sales of the OxyContin were multiplied more than 10 times the rate in the 1990s
Between 2008 and 2011
- OxyContin accounted for approximately 10% of the total oxycodone prescriptions in the state of New York
- According to theNew York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene the number of opioid painkiller prescriptions filled by New York City residents increased by 31%
- 2008 there were approximately 1.6 million
- 2011 there were approximately 2.2 million
- Oxycodone accounting for 53% of those prescriptions
Between 1997 and 2011, there was also a sharp increase in the prevalence of opioid addiction, which in turn has been associated with a rise in overdose deaths and heroin use, with deaths connected to opiate painkillers increasing 5-fold between 2003 and 2012.
Branding the Unbranded
According to Schneiderman, the agreement between Purdue Pharma and the State Attorney General reinforces and permanently enforces an internal program in Purdue Pharma that has been designed to prevent the company’s sales staff from promoting OxyContin to health care providers who may be involved in abuse and illegal diversion of opioids.
This agreement also requires Purdue to divulge any financial relationships with any individuals who appear on the company’s “unbranded” websites that endorse the benefits of pain treatment, including doctors and other health care professionals.
In other words, anyone with a paper-trail of money leading to the pharmaceutical company has to be identified for the state to keep an eye on, in case one of these healthcare providers starts to get a little generous with their prescriptions.
Abuse and Diversion Detection
Next the aim is to strengthen Purdue’s “Abuse and Diversion Detection” program, which requires sales representatives to report any facts that suggest a health care provider it markets OxyContin and other opiates to who may be involved in the abuse or illegal diversion of opiate medications.
When a provider is reported under the program, Purdue conducts an internal inquiry and may place the provider on a “no-call” list. Once placed on this list, Purdue sales representatives may no longer contact the provider to promote these products.
The agreement also requires Purdue’s sales representatives to ask healthcare providers if they have completed an FDA-approved training program regarding the appropriate prescribing of opioids and to provide information about their training.
- Addiction Treatment Information
Probably one of the more progressive parts of this deal is that Purdue will also provide information regarding treatment for drug addiction to healthcare providers upon request when they market opiate products. So essentially they are trying to help instill a safety-net in case patients slip through the cracks of the foundation they are trying to build for medication safety.
While some would say this is too little too late, at least the state of New York has taken some action to try and keep Purdue Pharma in check and make sure to hold them accountable for practices that might support questionable prescriptions and abuse of OxyContin and other products.
The opiate epidemic is real and it has been knocking down our doors for quite some time, but now we finally have more initiatives being put in place to protect people. Prescription drugs like OxyContin have strong ties to the issue, so it is only right that someone make sure these drug companies are held responsible for their contribution.
As for recovery from drug addiction, we all have to keep ourselves accountable and make a contribution to change. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Over the last decade, the maker of the potent painkiller OxyContin has compiled a database of hundreds of doctors suspected of recklessly prescribing its pills to addicts and drug dealers, but has done little to alert law enforcement or medical authorities, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Purdue Pharma has compiled a database of about 1,800 doctors it suspects may have recklessly prescribed the drug to people addicted to it, as well as to drug dealers. The company has kept most of the list private.
Despite its suspicions, Purdue Pharma continued to profit from prescriptions written by these physicians, many of whom were prolific prescribers of OxyContin. The company has sold more than $27 billion worth of the drug since its introduction in 1996.
History of OxyContin
Shortly after the release of OxyContin, Purdue implemented an aggressive marketing campaign. It promoted the use of OxyContin by primary care providers, use in non-cancer pain, and its use as first line therapy for chronic pain. Its marketing was physician directed, and certain promotional claims were even cited in medical journals. Within in two years, OxyContin came to account for 80 percent of all Perdue profits.
As the use of OxyContin became more wide spread, reports of abuse began to increase exponentially. Before the release of OxyContin, all formulations of oxycodone contained an NSAID, which limited its potential for abuse. The NSAID component of the drugs also restricted the routes of administration to oral ingestion. When OxyContin was released, abusers realized that they could crush the pill to release pure oxycodone (up to 80mg in one pill), which allowed larger doses and by additional routes of administrations such as intravenous and intranasal. Due to the widespread abuse, particularly in rural areas, OxyContin came to be known as “Hillbilly Heroin.”
Soon, the lawsuits began. Purdue was accused of disseminating misleading information about OxyContin. In 2001, both the FDA and Purdue issued warnings against the recreational use of the drug. Despite the warnings, OxyContin continued to be one of the most widely abused drugs in the United States.
In 2011, to try to curb abuse of the drug, manufacturers added additional binders to the formulation to prevent the grinding of tablets for insufflation or injection, and to maintain OxyContin’s extended release characteristics. The added binders greatly reduced the recreational value of OxyContin, because they were not easily broken down.
Purdue has promoted the idea that the country’s epidemic of prescription drug deaths was fueled largely by pharmacy robberies, doctor-shopping patients and teens raiding home medicine cabinets. The database suggests that Purdue has long known that physicians also play a significant role in the crisis.
Beginning in 2002, Purdue trained its sales representatives to report “red flags” in doctors’ offices such as young patients, long lines, people nodding off in waiting rooms and frequent cash transactions. The suspect doctors are removed from the company’s sales territories and assigned to the database, known as “Region Zero.”
According to The Times, Purdue attorney Robin Abrams said the company created the database to steer its sales representatives away from risky doctors. Policing physicians, she said, was not Purdue’s responsibility.
“We don’t have the ability to take the prescription pad out of their hand,” she said.
Abrams said the company had alerted law enforcement or medical regulators to 154 of the prescribers — about 8% of those in its database.
Mitchell Katz, Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, says the company is obligated to report all the doctors in the database. “There is an ethical obligation,” he said. “Any drug company that has information about physicians potentially engaged in illegal prescribing or prescribing that is endangering people’s lives has a responsibility to report it.”
What do you think? Do the manufactureres of potent drugs have a responsibility to report unethical doctors? Tell us in the comments!
And if you or someone you know is in need of OxyContin addiction treatment, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.