The former CEO and chief legal officer of Purdue Pharma -- who pled guilty for their role in a $634 million settlement that ended an investigation into the company's marketing of OxyContin -- have sued to overturn the Health and Human Services department's decision to bar them from working with companies that do business with the federal government.
The suit is an enormous act of chutzpah. The two execs, Michael Friedman and Howard Udell, argue that even though they were convicted in federal court they bore no responsibility for the outbreak of "hillbilly heroin" addiction in the U.S. in the late 1990s and early 2000s following Purdue's irresponsible marketing of OxyContin.
Let's remind ourselves of what Purdue was responsible for on Friedman and Udell's watch. According to the FDA:
Purdue trained its sales representatives to make false representations to health care providers about the difficulty of extracting oxycodone, the active ingredient, from the OxyContin tablet; trained its sales force to represent to health care providers that OxyContin did not cause euphoria and was less addictive than immediate-release opiates; and allowed health care providers to entertain the erroneous belief that OxyContin was less addictive than morphine.Amazingly, Udell and Friedman argue in their complaint that not only have they done nothing wrong, but that it was all everybody else's fault:
An "unwavering commitment to combating abuse"? The "information" document filed by federal prosecutors to which Friedman and Udell pleaded guilty said Purdue made false claims about OxyContin's safety even though:
Purdue's own study showed that a drug abuser could extract approximately 68% of the oxycodone from a single 10mg OxyContin tablet by crushing the tablet, stirring it in water, and drawing the solution through cotton into a syringe.Hat tip to Corporate Counsel.