Thursday January 17, 2019
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Stop Power Players From Protecting Pharmaceutical CriminalsMarianne Skolek-Perez Salem-News.com Investigative Reporter
Rudy Giuliani succeeded in keeping Purdue Pharma out of prison resulting in thousands of deaths!
(MYRTLE BEACH, SC) - Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin, pleaded guilty in federal court in 2007 to criminal charges that they misled regulators, doctors and patients about the drug’s risk of addiction and its potential to be abused.
The disgraced privately held Purdue Pharma, owned by the billionaire Sackler family, brought in "big guns" to negotiate the monetary settlement and hired Rudy Giuliani to avoid prison time.
Judge James Jones presiding over the sentencing imposed community service hours at a drug rehabilitation center to the three CEO's of Purdue Pharma. They were Michael Friedman, President, Howard Udell, Chief Counsel (now deceased) and Paul Goldenheim, MD.
With Giuliani's shrewd legal skills utilized, Purdue Pharma continued to make billions of dollars while their created prescription opioid epidemic raged out of control.
In 2007, Purdue Pharma's net worth was a few billion dollars. In 2017, Purdue Pharma's net worth was approximately $34 billion.
Ever think what would have happened if former New York City mayor, Rudy Giuliani had not been instrumental in sending a message that bad guys don't deserve prison time?
How many lives would have been spared to a catastrophic prescription opioid epidemic if Purdue Pharma did not have the financial resources to pay for "state of the art no conscience" legal representation named Rudy Giuliani?
Ironically, President Trump has named Andrew Giuliani, Rudy's son, to the White House Opioid Commission. Andrew is a "drop out" from Duke University and has no background in drug policy or the opioid epidemic.
Actually his "expertise" seems to lie in playing golf and unsuccessfully suing Duke University for kicking him off the golf team. Anyone else thinking the word "coincidence" does not apply here?
Lawsuits against Purdue Pharma are now being filed in many states in the country by the most powerful law firms and Attorneys General in the U.S.
As encouraging as this may be in regard to justice for victims of Purdue Pharma, there is quite a history of "power players" highlighted by "America's Mayor", Giuliani hired by the criminally convicted pharmaceutical company.
Here is a brief timeline of some of the "power players" a $34 billion pharmaceutical company can afford to fight their legal battles.
I will begin with Jay McCloskey who served as the US Attorney for Maine from 1993 to 2001. In late 1999 and early 2000, McCloskey became aware of a growing problem in Maine involving the abuse and addiction to prescription drugs, including OxyContin.
In February 2000, he sent a letter to all of Maine's practicing physicians warning them about increasing problems with the illegal diversion and abuse of OxyContin and other opiate-based prescription medications.
Fast forward to July 2007 -- The former U.S. Attorney who brought national attention to abuse and addiction of OxyContin and other prescription painkillers in Maine testified in front of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington on behalf of the company that makes the drug, OxyContin.
I was sitting two seats away from McCloskey and I was testifying against Purdue Pharma. McCloskey testified that Purdue Pharma was not a corporate criminal and further that they were a responsible company. He had been hired by Purdue Pharma as a consultant.
Unlike McCloskey, Darrell McGraw Jr., the longtime Democratic attorney general of the state of West Virginia, filed a civil case against Purdue Pharma in 2001 alleging that the privately held pharmaceutical company had engaged in "coercive and deceptive" marketing of OxyContin.
McGraw further charged that Purdue had used misleading advertisements and had promoted the inappropriate use of OxyContin for minor pain.
His lawsuit further stated that Purdue had offered doctors free trips to “pain management” seminars where the firm pitched the drug as safe and effective for treating minor pain – without mentioning the drug was supposed to be used only for severe pain and easily abused.
McGraw also alleged that Purdue had told “pharmacists that they can get in trouble if they do not fill prescriptions, even if they believe someone may be an abuser of the drug.” He maintained that the firm’s underhanded practices had caused users in West Virginia to become addicted to the drug.
The lawsuit was a big worry to Purdue -- very specifically they had a lot to lose financially. This suit was a serious threat to the criminal drug maker, and they eventually called in Eric Holder, an attorney working for Covington and Burling in Washington, DC to cover up their deceptive deeds.
Holder went on to become Attorney General of our country and a key player in the scandal of the "Fast and the Furious."
The morning the case was to go to trial, in November 2004, Holder helped negotiate a settlement. Working in the judge’s chambers in West Virginia, he put together an agreement under which Purdue Pharma would have to pay a mere $10 million over four years into drug abuse and education programs in West Virginia -- and Purdue Pharma would not have to admit any wrongdoing!
Eric Holder managed to keep the criminal activity of Purdue Pharma quiet since there would be no trial and no documents or testimony to be made public.
Did Holder's "hands in the pockets of Purdue Pharma" allow this epidemic of OxyContin death and addiction throughout the country to perpetuate? Many people think it did.
In 2007, then Attorney General Alberto Gonzales attempted to fire nine U.S. Attorneys. One of those U.S. Attorneys on the "hit list" was John Brownlee out of Virginia who was investigating Purdue Pharma and ultimately charged the pharmaceutical company with deceptive marketing of OxyContin.
Brownlee did not buckle under to Gonzales and Purdue Pharma ultimately pleaded guilty to charges against them and were labeled felons. I was in the courtroom in July 2007 with the DOJ guys I worked with for six years and I testified against Purdue Pharma.
It was a memorable day, but I knew without prison time a convicted pharmaceutical company worth a few billion dollars would continue to make billions of dollars at the cost of tens of thousands of lives. I was not proven wrong.
Now we move on to "law and order" former US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald of Illinois who prosecuted Governor Rod Blagojevich charged with corruption in a pay-to-play.
Mr. Fitzgerald is now representing Purdue Pharma against lawsuits filed by states throughout the country. Obviously Mr. Fitzgerald is oblivious to the devastation that his client has caused in deaths and addictions not only in his state of Illinois, but throughout the country.
Recently it was announced that the "queen of mass torts", attorney Sheila Birnbaum of the prestigious law firm, Quinn Emanuel will be involved in handling settlements against Purdue Pharma. Birnbaum has been referred to as a "legal shark" -- affectionately, I am sure.
In November 2017, I was given the privilege of addressing the best attorneys in the country at their Mass Tort Opioid Conference in St. Louis, Missouri.
It was an experience I will never forget in a huge auditorium and I began my talk with "This is the last train out of Dodge. You have not gotten it right yet and there are no second chances at this. The criminal activity by Purdue Pharma needs to be stopped and you need to stop it."
So Ms. Birbaum, I invite you to be seated on the train out of Dodge. I will be seated in the engine compartment with attorneys who have the conscience to decipher true justice from felons responsible for the loss of a generation of our kids because of their criminal lies.
We will all sleep well at night. Will you?