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The Citizens of Ohio Deserve Better in Dealing with Your Epidemic of DrugsMarianne Skolek Salem-News.com
Gil Grissom (from CSI: Crime Scene Investigation) "I tend not to believe people; they lie. The evidence never lies."
(MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.) - On February 19, I wrote an article entitled Ohio Residents Better Bar Their Windows and Hide their Daughters.
The story dealt with a possible conflict of interest with a public relations company by the name of Fleishman-Hillard having past ties to the maker of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma. Fleishman-Hillard had been hired by the State of Ohio to run its drug anti-overdose campaign -- in the amount of $400,000.
The State of Ohio did not seem to care that Fleishman-Hillard's role while a paid consultant to Purdue Pharma was to manage crisis communications when problems with their blockbuster drug, OxyContin surfaced in epidemic proportion throughout the country.
In 2007, the maker of OxyContin was sentenced in Federal Court after pleading guilty to charges of misleading physicians and patients as to the addictive and abusive qualities of OxyContin.
So much for Fleishman-Hillard being effective at crisis communications for the criminally convicted multi-billion dollar Purdue Pharma.
I sent the below email to the Director of the Ohio Board of Health who was instrumental in selecting Fleishman-Hillard to address Ohio's growing drug epidemic.
From: Marianne Skolek [firstname.lastname@example.org]
I was stunned to read that the State of Ohio has hired Fleishman Hillard, who formerly was a consultant for Purdue Pharma to work on the drug problems in Ohio. I was equally as stunned to read Robin Hogen's quote that the OxyContin abuse issue was "political." As a point of interest, Purdue Pharma was not only fined over $600 million for misleading physicians and patients as to the addictive and abusive qualities of OxyContin, their three CEO's Michael Friedman, Howard Udell and Paul Goldenheim pleaded guilty, were individually fined, placed on probation for three years and given 400 hours of community service at a drug facility. They and Purdue Pharma are convicted felons. The Secretary of Health and Human Services in Washington, DC, Kathleen Sebelius is being sued by Purdue Pharma because debarrment action was taken against the three convicted felons to prevent them from working on any government projects for a period of 12 years.
Your hiring any firm associated with the company responsible for criminally marketing OxyContin which has resulted in an epidemic of addiction and death in every state in the country is a disgrace. I compare it to America's Most Wanted hiring Charles Manson to consult for them on helping apprehend felons.
Below is an article that a reporter in NJ wrote after my encounter with Robin Hogen when he was PR spokesperson for Purdue Pharma. You might be interested in reading it. Also, my articles for Salem-News.com on the epidemic we have in this country because of the shrewd marketing tactics used by Purdue Pharma and their current and past consultants can be opened by clicking the below link. I will be following the State of Ohio's hiring of Fleishman Hillard very closely.
I think the citizens of Ohio deserve better.
Over three weeks later, I received the below reply from the Director of the Ohio Board of Health regarding my concerns.
Dear Mrs. Skolek,
The Ohio Department of Health’s goal as a public health agency is to find effective ways to prevent prescription drug misuse, abuse and unintentional deaths from prescription drug overdose.
This is done through many different activities including the development and introduction of a comprehensive community outreach and social marketing campaign to try to prevent unintentional deaths from abuse/misuse of prescription drug abuse.
In our review of the proposals, Fleishman-Hillard presented the best plan for helping at-risk communities using the community outreach and social marketing method. The contract between Fleishman-Hillard and Purdue Pharma ended six years ago in 2004 and was coordinated through a different office in a different state.
It is also our understanding that the activities Fleishman-Hillard conducted for the former contract with Purdue Pharma centered on appropriate use, storage and disposal of OxyContin and on the prevention of prescription drug abuse and did not promote the product or Purdue Pharma.
Since you took the time to write this letter I believe you truly care about this issue, as do I and the dedicated staff of this department. I ask you to support the Ohio Department of Health in our goal to combat prescription drug misuse, abuse and overdose.
It would seem our goals are the same – even if we may disagree on the best course of action to reach them.
Thank you for your letter.
Alvin D. Jackson, M.D.
Our goals are the same? No Dr. Jackson - I don't work with a company to solve a major drug epidemic who consulted for a criminally convicted pharmaceutical company - and that company is responsible for the destruction of families in addiction and death. What kind of message does this send to the young people you are trying to reach in educating them as to the dangers of OxyContin? For you to ask me, or for that matter any person knowledgeable in the tactics used in the criminal marketing of OxyContin, to support you is an insult.
Since making your decision to hire Fleishman-Hillard to deal with your drug problem, you might want to monitor their billing to the State of Ohio. It seems they had a slight problem in 2005 in questionable and unsubstantiated billings to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to the tune of $4.2 million. The City of Los Angeles sued Fleishman-Hillard and the general manager of its Los Angeles office in 2005 for defrauding the city and padding its bills, including falsifying timesheets, when Fleishman-Hillard did work for its Department of Water and Power programs from 1998 to 2004. In April 2005, Fleishman-Hillard issued a public apology and paid a $5.7 million settlement to the city. The firm responded that “On the basis of that investigation, the agency believes some senior executives of the Los Angeles office, who are no longer with the firm, caused certain bills to be presented to the city that appear to be improper and indefensible." The lawsuit came about after the Los Angeles Times ran a series of investigative stories. As a result of the case, several of the firm’s executives were terminated.
My advice to the residents of Ohio now is You Better Bar Your Windows and Hide your Daughters -- and your Sons. They may just be unwilling participants in a new television series called CSI: Ohio - Crime Scene Investigation because of some bad decision making by the Ohio Department of Health.
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.
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