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Taking the Battle Against OxyContin to America's StreetsMarianne Skolek Salem-News.com
"Be the change that you want to see in the world." Mahatma Gandhi
(MYRTLE BEACH, SC) - When I began my work ten years ago at exposing Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin for their criminal marketing of OxyContin, I was adamant about certain things that I felt I needed to accomplish. Most of them I have accomplished -- testifying against the pharmaceutical company in Virginia when they admitted they lied about the dangers of OxyContin, pleaded guilty and were sentenced.
Being asked to testify in front of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee about the criminal marketing of OxyContin. Working as an investigative reporter and writing every week about the prescription drug epidemic killing and addicting in the hundreds of thousands. I am most honored to be a voice for those family members who have lost loved ones and thought their voices would not be heard.
I seldom write about what brought me to my activism and exposure of pharmaceutical companies for their over-marketing of dangerous and highly addictive drugs. Some people know that my daughter, Jill died because she had the misfortune of being prescribed OxyContin. This has long been not about Jill though -- it is about every parent's child. Because this prescription drug epidemic will be coming through your front door one day whether it be your child, your grandchild, your neighbor, your best friend -- it is in epidemic proportion.
I have connected with people in the Senate, in Congress and at the FDA in my fight against this death march of drugs. Although I have been very disillusioned with the FDA and their indifference to the prescription drug epidemic and their ties to pharma.
I have been fortunate to meet with and talk with physicians, attorneys and family members as concerned as I am that pharmaceutical companies are allowed to use financially funded pain foundations as public relations companies stating we have an "under treatment of pain" in this country. This couldn't be further from the truth. Just have a wisdom tooth extracted and you will be written a prescription for pain -- and a prescription for a lethal and addictive narcotic.
Pharma and their billion dollar profits has been able to convince the medical profession that pain is a "disease" and not a "symptom". I use the word "criminal" frequently because I believe very strongly that what has happened in this country with prescription drugs being pushed for every level of pain is criminal.
From the beginning of my work, I was not a proponent of picketers or demonstrators. But I am changing my thinking now. The FDA has played into the hands of the pharmaceutical industry and is a partner with drug companies rather than a protector of the American people.
This year I had the honor of meeting a man named Avi Israel from Buffalo, New York. I wish I could say it was social, but it was a meeting out of tragedy. Avi lost his 20 year old son, Michael last year because a doctor prescribed highly addictive pain killers to a 20 year old and Michael committed suicide because his physician told the family Michael needed these highly addictive painkillers.
Avi Israel has not sat back and mourned and grieved for Michael. He does that privately and with his wife, Julie.
What Avi does is he goes to Washington, DC and doesn't ask to see Senators, Congressmen, the Surgeon General, or the appointed presidential drug czar by knocking on their doors -- he breaks their doors down. Doors open to Avi and he is a force to be reckoned with. Avi doesn't do it for Michael -- he does it for your children and your family members so they don't suffer the horrific loss that he and Julie have experienced in the death of Michael.
Below is an email that Avi recently sent me. Normally I would not put this into an article because of the gut wrenching contents of the writing, but maybe my thinking has to change. Maybe the FDA needs a smack of reality. They have let us down and this father is not going to sit back and let the FDA be controlled by the pharmaceutical industry. Here is the email I received from Avi Israel -- it is every parent's nightmare and could be your nightmare:
So yes my mind has been changed. Picket in front of the FDA. Show pictures of your loved ones lost to this opioid epidemic. Demand the removal of Margaret Hamburg, MD, Commissioner and Bob Rappaport, MD, Director of the Division of Anesthesia and Analgesia Products of the FDA. They are not and have not been protecting the American people against this Holocaust that has been fed by profits made by the pharmaceutical industry.
And if the big money of pharma shows up at this demonstration on October 29 spewing their under-treatment of pain in America, ask them to show a picture of their loved one who has become addicted or died because of the most creative public relations campaign in the history of medicine -- pain is a "disease" and not a "symptom." Enough is enough -- hold the FDA accountable for this prescription drug epidemic before it shows its ugly face in your home.
LP - "Gestures, in love, are incomparably more attractive, effective and valuable than words." Francois Rabelais. If we ever forget this, we become void of the peace, joy, faith, laughter, encouragement and love that is ours and become the "them" instead of the "us".
Salem-News.com Investigative Reporter Marianne Skolek, is an Activist for Victims of OxyContin and Purdue Pharma 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 - Michael Friedman, Howard Udell and Paul Goldenheim - who pleaded 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 8-1/2 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.
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