Drug maker Purdue Pharmaceutical, L.P. has agreed to pay $19.5 million to South Carolina and 25 other states to settle a complaint concerning its promotion of the powerful pain killer OxyContin and failure to disclose risk of abuse with the drug.
The action by the drug maker comes in response to a complaint by several state attorney generals who discovered that the company had suggested that doctors prescribe OxyContin to patients every 8 hours instead of the 12 hours approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The settlement also required the pharmaceutical company to discontinue dispensation of the drug in any manner other than approved by the FDA. In a prepared statement the company responded to the settlement, “It has always been Purdue’s written policy that promotion of its products must adhere to FDA-approved prescribing information for those products as well as applicable laws.” Additionally Purdue Pharma has agreed to discontinue the practice of paying the sales staff a bonus in direct correlation with the volume of OxyContin prescribed.
Over the years, OxyContin came to prominence in the news when the prescribed drug was discovered to be highly addictived. When the illegal use of the drug produced a heroin-like high, OxyContin was was noted by the Bush administration as one of the nation’s most-abused prescription drugs in the war on drugs.
States that took part in the settlement were Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and t he District of Columbia.
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper commented on the situation stating, “Drug makers need to give doctors and patients accurate information about their drugs or expect to face the consequences.”