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  • Writer's pictureDonald V. Watkins

A “Strange” Development in the OxyContin Saga…

Updated: Oct 15, 2021

By Claire Larson, guest contributor

©Copyrighted and Published on September 15, 2019

The prescription drug, OxyContin, has left many dead or addicted in its wake. Over 17,000 people died from a prescription opioid overdose in 2017. That number has risen substantially since 1999 when 3,400 people succumbed to an opioid overdose just three short years after OxyContin was introduced to the market. The number of deaths continues to climb. OxyContin was originally sold under several falsehoods. The manufacturer, Purdue Pharma, initially claimed the “timed-release” medication would last 12 hours and was less addictive than other similar pain medications. Both statements turned out to be false. Many patients were finding the drug was wearing off after five or six hours and some were becoming addicted after just one dose. This addiction led to patients seeking out other drugs when prescription OxyContin could no longer be obtained from their doctor. Some sources say that opioids were the gateway drug for approximately 90% of all heroin addicts. It’s not a big surprise the manufacturers of OxyContin are in the middle of settlement negotiations with numerous parties to prevent a full-fledged civil trial.

OxyContin had its beginnings in the prescription drug MS Contin – a powerful opioid used to dull the pain caused by cancer. It was set to lose its patent in 1990 and Purdue needed to find a way to keep generating profits. They formulated a plan to slightly change the medication and market it to a significantly larger group of patients under the guise of the drug being an effective, longer-lasting (12 hr) pain killer for a myriad of conditions – not just cancer. Current prescription pain killers provided relief for only 6 hours. Purdue submitted an application for approval to the FDA using research they knew to be false. They were aware that many patients were not obtaining anywhere close to 12 hours of pain relief. The FDA approved the drug using that faulty research and Purdue’s marketing plan centered around those falsehoods. Doctors soon became aware that many times the drug was wearing off after six hours. This led them to begin prescribing with the instructions to take every six to eight hours. When Purdue discovered this, they demanded this practice end and suggested that the dose be increased instead. After all, the longer time period between doses was one of the drug’s major selling points. This was done without appropriate research to back up the practice. Typically, a higher dose does not generate an increased relief period; it just further decreases the pain response during the time the drug is active AND increases the potential for dependency. To this day, the drug is still marketed with the faulty information to take once every 12 hours.

Since losing the Republican run-off for an Alabama U.S. Senate seat to an accused pedophile, Luther Strange has been involved in some interesting negotiations. Acting as a lawyer for the Sackler family who owns Purdue Pharma, it appears he’s been encouraging state attorney generals to agree to the terms of a settlement that may not be in the best interests of its victims.

While all of this illegal marketing of OxyContin has been going on, the Sackler family has been quietly transferring funds out of the US. At the present time, authorities have uncovered approximately $1 Billion in wire transfers leaving the US for areas such as Switzerland. It doesn’t appear that it is known exactly what assets the Sackler family possesses as a good portion of them are in shell companies or foreign accounts. Can an appropriate settlement really be negotiated when no one seems to know where the assets are? One wonders what type of government resources will be directed at the Sacklers to uncover any other funds that were transferred outside the US and whether any other crimes were committed.

In an attempt to divert attention from the transfers, Mortimer Sackler said "This is a cynical attempt by a hostile AG's office to generate defamatory headlines to try to torpedo a mutually beneficial settlement that is supported by so many other states and would result in billions of dollars going to communities and individuals across the country that need help." In a further attempt to thwart officials from uncovering any other assets that may have been diverted, the Sackler defendants are endeavoring to quash subpoenas and limit discovery. One of the subpoenas already served, generated the information showing the Sackler family has been setting up shell corporations and trusts. These shell corporations and trusts have the effect of shielding and hiding profits obtained from the sale of OxyContin.

One might also suspect there may have been some felony wire fraud and conspiracy taking place in addition to the misdemeanor charge of “misbranding” three of Purdue Pharma’s executives pled guilty to in 2006. Strangely enough, the white male Purdue Pharma owners were never charged and no member of the Sackler family nor its company executives have seen the inside of a jail cell. This is extremely interesting considering the drug, marketed on falsehoods, has generated billions in profit for the owners and left so many people dead or addicted in its wake.

Coincidentally enough, Strange spoke against legalizing medical marijuana during the passage of Leni’s Law in 2016. He was also quoted in the Decatur Daily during the 2017 Alabama Senate race speaking against the approval of medical Cannabis, "Like any medical procedure or pharmaceutical, there is a scientific research process to go through in order to ensure that medical treatments are safe and do not cause more harm than good," Strange said. "As state attorney general, I saw firsthand the negative impact that abuse of even legal drugs such as opioids have on our communities." It’s too bad he seems to have forgotten this in his latest role. In states where medical marijuana has been approved, opioid use has dropped substantially. One has to wonder if the fact he is beholden to the Sacklers explains his stance on medical Cannabis.…

Luther Strange: Beholden to giant pharma?

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the website owner. Assumptions made in the analysis are not reflective of the position of any entity other than the author – and, since we are critically-thinking human beings, these views are always subject to change, revision, and rethinking at any time.

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