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OxyContin executives sentenced for misleading public on drug addiction risks

[JURIST] The US District Court of the Western District of Virgina on Friday sentenced three former executives of the Purdue Frederick Company [corporate website], manufacturer of painkiller OxyContin [FDA materials], to three years of probation and 400 hours of community service in drug treatment programs. The three executives, including former president Michael Friedman, former chief in house counsel Howard R. Udell, and former medical director Paul D. Goldenheim [plea agreements, PDF], all pleaded guilty [JURIST report] in May to a misdemeanor offense of misbranding a drug. Prosecutors had alleged that the company and executives were aware in 1995 that doctors were concerned about the drug's high addiction risk, but its sales representatives continued to misrepresent OxyContin's effects to physicians. Purdue Frederick welcomed the sentencing [press release, PDF] as a conclusion of a agreed to pay $634.5 million [plea agreement, PDF] in fines for its role in misleading the public. OxyContin, which is a schedule II controlled substance [backgrounder] and is designed to release its active ingredient over a period of time, has become increasingly abused because its time-release mechanism can be easily disrupted for illicit use. The New York Times has more.

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