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Feb-19-2010 12:00printcomments

Ohio Residents Better Bar Their Windows and Hide their Daughters

OxyContin is spawning drug addicts and causing pharmacy robberies nationwide every single day.

Seal of the state of Ohio
Seal of the state of Ohio

(MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.) - This morning newspapers in Ohio were reporting a story of a possible conflict over the state's drug program. It seems a public relations company by the name of Fleishman Hillard with past ties to drugmakers has been hired by the State of Ohio to run its drug anti-overdose campaign.

Marianne Skolek

This story falls under the category of what are the State of Ohio's health officials thinking by hiring Fleishman Hillard, a marketing firm, to run its campaign to reduce fatal drug overdoses -- despite the firm having once been a paid consultant for Purdue Pharma, manufacturer of one of Ohio's most abused and addictive drugs - OxyContin.

It seems the Ohio Department of Health officials did not even bother to discuss any problems with awarding Fleishman Hillard a $400,000 contract because Fleishman Hillard is no longer a paid consultant for Purdue Pharma.

The residents of Ohio may be interested in knowing that Fleishman Hillard's function while working for Purdue Pharma was to manage crisis communications for Purdue Pharma when allegations of abuse first arose in 2000. In 2007, Purdue Pharma and its three CEO's Michael Friedman, Howard Udell and Paul Goldenheim were charged in Federal Court -- and pleaded guilty -- to misleading physicians and patients about the addictive and abusive qualities of OxyContin. It appears that Fleishman Hillard fell a little short of "managing crisis communications" for Purdue Pharma.

Today's Ohio newspapers reported the state has skyrocking increases in accidental overdose deaths. Fleishman Hillard was the "highest" bidder of the three bids presented to the State's Department of Health. In their proposal, Fleishman Hillard indicated they had "coordinated briefings with politicians and enforcement agencies and educated certain audiences on the proper use of pain medication and the role of OxyContin in managing chronic pain."

Am I missing something here? Is it me, or should the State of Ohio's Department of Health be ashamed of themselves? Why does "snake oil salesmen" come to my mind?

Someone named Orman Hall, president of the Fairfield County Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board, seems to be the only person wondering if the firm that defended Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin -- the drug responsible for the epidemic of death and addiction in Ohio can really avoid a conflict of interest.

And this should be very reassuring to the residents of Ohio. The former vice president of public affairs for Purdue Pharma, Robin Hogen (until they cut him free during one of their downsizings) praised Fleishman's expertise in advising management on how to respond to those initial reports of abuse back in 2000. Hogan now works at his alma mater, Yale University as Deputy Director of Public Affairs. Hogen is quoted as saying OxyContin abuse became a "political issue", especially in Ohio. Tell the parents of young kids they have arranged funerals for -- or the parents of kids dealing with the snake pit of addiction -- that it is a "political issue".

In July 2001, Purdue Pharma's PR Department issued a statement saying that they had been dealing with a media "maelstrom" ever since The New York Times ran a front page spread "asserting" that OxyContin "for cancer patients" was spawning drug addicts and causing pharmacy robberies. Well it's now 2010 and it appears The New York Times was right on the money -- OxyContin is spawning drug addicts and causing pharmacy robberies nationwide every single day.

Back in 2001, Robin Hogen made two famous statements -- "We're waiting for that moment when the press realizes that this is a story that they've been getting wrong" and "The way the media was presenting the story was: OxyContin is coming to your neighborhood; bar the windows and hide your daughters."

Christy Beeghly and Judi Moseley, both officials in the health department's Injury Prevention Program, were on the selection committee that chose Fleishman's plan. Below are their email addresses as well as the email address for the Director of the Ohio Department of Health. Maybe they need to hear that the best snake oil salesmen just made $400,000 off the State of Ohio.

In the meantime, the residents of Ohio better bar their windows and hide their daughters.

=========================================== Reporter Marianne Skolek, is an Activist for Victims of OxyContin throughout the United States and Canada. In July 2007, she testified against Purdue Pharma in Federal Court in Virginia at the sentencing of their three CEO's who pled guilty to charges of marketing OxyContin as less likely to be addictive or abused to physicians and patients. She also testified against Purdue Pharma at a Judiciary Hearing of the U.S. Senate in July 2007. Marianne works with government agencies and private attorneys in having a voice for her daughter Jill, who died in 2002 after being prescribed OxyContin, as well as the voice for scores of victims of OxyContin. She has been involved in her work for the past 7-1/2 years and is currently working on a book that exposes Purdue Pharma for their continued criminal marketing of OxyContin.

Marianne is a nurse having graduated in 1991 as president of her graduating class. She also has a Paralegal certification. Marianne served on a Community Service Board for the Courier News, a Gannet newspaper in NJ writing articles predominantly regarding AIDS patients and their emotional issues. She was awarded a Community Service Award in 1993 by the Hunterdon County, NJ HIV/AIDS Task Force in recognition of and appreciation for the donated time, energy and love in facilitating a Support Group for persons with HIV/AIDS.
You can send Marianne an email at:

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Jeff Kaye~ February 20, 2010 2:05 pm (Pacific time)

I have neuropathic pain from arthritis and degenerative disc disease. My pain management physician prescribed me Oxycontin 20mg twice a day. Nothing. Aspirin worked better. He doubled that, and then some. Still no effect on my pain, except to make it worse if I didn't take the pills. Useless crap in its "Extended Release" caplet form, but viciously addictive to kids who are breaking them open, snorting the powder and cooking it up and shooting it into their veins like heroin. I got my pain doc to switch me from this crap to "less powerful" Hydrocodoneand Tramadol with better pain relief results. I augment that with 800mg of ibuprofen, at the doc's recommendation. Still have lots of pain, but not like when I was taking that supposedly superior painkiller, actually community-killer, Oxycontin. Once again you've churned out another fine article, Ms. Skolek. The world thanks you for all you do to hound these conscienceless profiteers to extinction.

Disgusted Ohio Resident February 19, 2010 6:43 pm (Pacific time)

In southern Ohio, we are already locking up our daughters, and sons,in prison, for Oxycodone related crimes, and we bar our doors too, because the addicted will steal and kill as if it is as vital to them as oxygen. Even our own kids rob us for this evil drug. Many bury their children from overdose, and still no one listens. This conspiracy by Perdue and Physicians is a crime against humanity. This is an absolutely disgusting mess and the Dept. of Health thinks it is a matter of "educating" people? They have no clue about the addictive nature of this drug and it's ability to take over a person and bring an entire community to it's knees. I am disgusted at ODH for this stupidity and ignorance and waste of money that will just put on a big show for them and not accomplish one damn thing.

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