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Howard Udell Legacy - 1941 - 2013Marianne Skolek Salem-News.com
After testimony, I walked to the defense table within 3 feet of the defendants and as clearly as I could say I spoke for Jill and the victims of OxyContin by saying "You are bastards -- you are sheer evil."
(MYRTLE BEACH, SC) - Howard Udell pleaded guilty in Federal Court in Virginia in 2007 to misleading physicians and patients about the addictive and abusive qualities of OxyContin along with Michael Friedman, CEO and Paul Goldenheim, MD, Medical Director executives of Purdue Pharma.
It was announced on August 2 that Howard Udell had died of a stroke. I reflected back to a warm day in Abington, Virginia in July 2007 when I appeared in Federal Court to give testimony against Purdue Pharma for their criminal marketing of OxyContin. I remember vividly seeing Mr. Friedman, Mr. Udell and Dr. Goldenheim sitting at the defense table surrounded by their high powered attorneys. I was a victim of their criminally marketing of OxyContin having lost my precious daughter to prescribed OxyContin. After testimony, I walked to the defense table within 3 feet of the defendants and as clearly as I could say I spoke for Jill and the victims of OxyContin by saying "You are bastards -- you are sheer evil." The three defendants glared at me. I was escorted back to my seat by two Federal Marshals.
Later I had occasion to email Mr. Udell's son who is also an attorney.
"I read your letter to Judge Jones regarding the "anxiety and health issues" to your family if Howard Udell were incarcerated. I don't have to worry about these issues with my daughter -- she died because she was prescribed a drug that was marketed to her physician as less likely to be addictive or abused. A crime your father was charged with and pled guilty to. My consolation is that your father will always be known as a convicted criminal to his family, his profession and his community. Also 400 community service hours in a drug rehab facility with victims of this marketing ploy who are there because they became "addicted" to a drug that was less likely to be addictive is reward to me -- especially when these addicts find out who the person is serving 400 hours of community service." Marianne Skolek
His son emailed me in part:
Thank you for your letter. Let me first say that, as a parent, I would not wish the tragedy that you have suffered upon anyone. I am so sorry for the terrible loss of your daughter. I certainly can understand and respect how such a horrible loss has motivated you to seek some kind of remedy. Your belief, however, that my father -- or Purdue, for that matter -- shares even the remotest culpability for your loss is sadly misguided. Ms. Skolek, I am glad that you read my sentencing letter. Assuming that you read the remainder of the submissions, I'm sure you understand that, contrary to the spiteful words you wrote below, my father is beloved by his family, his friends, his work colleagues and virtually everyone with whom he interacts. You may recall the one letter noting how he is "semi-seriously" referred to as a "saint" by some colleagues. You have my sincerest hope that you can work through your grief by redirecting your misguided anger and handling yourself in the same noble way that my father has handled himself throughout his wonderful life.
Best of luck to you,
First I thought "my father -- or Purdue, for that matter -- shares even the remotest culpability for your loss is sadly misguided." There was culpability though because the three defendants pleaded guilty and so did Purdue Pharma. Also saying "contrary to the spiteful words you wrote below my father is beloved by his family, his friends, his work colleagues and virtually everyone with whom he interacts. You may recall the one letter noting how he is "semi-seriously referred to as a "saint" by some colleagues."
In my final email to Mr. Udell's son, I replied "Yes I believe your father and the other two convicted criminals share culpability and my belief is not misguided. My daughter too was beloved by her family and is deeply missed. I do not use spiteful words -- I speak for thousands of victims of a criminally convicted pharmaceutical corporation and three convicted criminals who pled guilty to the charges against them. I do not believe your father to be a noble person but I respect your desire to see him as the person you wish he were. I would not call your father's actions as regards the addiction and death of thousands of people as noble -- a saint he is not.
Mr. Udell's obituary was written glowingly of his love for his family and his many accomplishments in the law profession as well as his impressive educational background. He was a "trusted and wise counselor and friend, known for his character, integrity, sagacity and sense of humor."
I sat back and thought what a legacy to Mr. Udell "known for his character, integrity, sagacity and sense of humor." I wondered how many others who have entered the gates of heaven with their lives cut short by the marketing of OxyContin also were known and loved by their families for their character, integrity, sagacity and sense of humor.
My guess is that these tens of thousands of people behind the gates of heaven are wanting to see for themselves Mr. Udell's character, integrity, sagacity and sense of humor before the door to the gates is opened.
LP - there is an angel in heaven who I know would have shared our love for each other and her wonderful sense of humor as well as yours.
Marianne Skolek twitter.com/MarianneSkolek
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