|SNc Channels: About Salem-News.com
Salem-News.com is an Independent Online Newsgroup in the United States, setting the standard for the future of News.Publisher:
'Don't blind side me'
Marianne Skolek Salem-News.com
My comment to the investigative journalist writing for Fortune Magazine about Purdue Pharma -- and the deception I encountered. Is Purdue Pharma now manipulating journalists to further their criminal marketing of OxyContin?
Katherine Eban and J. Aaron Graham
(MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.) - Yesterday I received a telephone call from Katherine Eban (also writes under Katherine Eban Finkelstein), an award-winning investigative reporter, who writes for Fortune Magazine -- Eban is also a Rhodes Scholar and author of a book "Dangerous Doses." She purportedly wanted to interview me about an expose on Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin which would be written focusing on the company after they pleaded guilty to criminally marketing OxyContin.
Just last week, I wrote an article for Salem-News.com about clinical trials of OxyContin on children from 6 to 16 years old and I referenced questions and statements I had received from someone in the medical profession. So it seemed an odd question from an investigative reporter to be asked "Did I know anyone from within Purdue Pharma who would talk with her -- perhaps a doctor? Or maybe a previous employee?" But than I'm not a Rhodes Scholar. I replied that I was writing a book and would be referring to doctors and employees connected to Purdue Pharma in my book and did not wish to share this information. Suggested she might want to talk with Nathaniel Katz, MD -- but Katz was of no interest to Ms. Eban -- since he is a paid consultant to Purdue Pharma.
Did I think that Purdue Pharma had changed their "ways" after the criminal conviction when their three CEO's Michael Friedman, Paul Goldenheim and Howard Udell performed the benevolent act of pleading guilty for the few sales representatives who lied about the dangers of OxyContin. I suggested to Ms. Eban that she ask Purdue Pharma to show her a copy of the internal investigation they conducted to determine who these sales representatives were who pushed OxyContin as less likely to be addictive or abused. After all wouldn't a multi-billion dollar, privately held pharmaceutical company want to keep a sterling reputation in the pharmaceutical industry and show government agencies their good intentions? An internal investigation was never conducted by Purdue Pharma. Ms. Eban said that she hadn't thought to ask Purdue Pharma if they had, in fact, conducted an internal investigation.
I was curious -- when is this Fortune Magazine article being published? "Next week" was the reply. Still puzzled me. Why ask me if I knew of any doctor or employee within Purdue Pharma who would be willing to speak with Ms. Eban -- when the timing was so short? Puzzling.
I brought up Purdue Pharma's funded pain societies who lobby to push narcotics for the "undertreatment of pain" in America -- in particular the American Pain Foundation. Another strike -- Ms. Eban said she was unfamiliar with Purdue Pharma's pain societies. But then she did a writing as Katherine Eban Finkelstein defending physicians who were charged by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) with over-prescribing narcotics and her article was posted on Purdue Pharma's pain society websites. So why tell me that she was not familiar with pain societies and their financial ties to Purdue Pharma? Sorry I don't have the answer -- I'm not a Rhodes scholar.
So imagine my surprise when I read the below New York Times article written by Ms. Eban and J. Aaron Graham, former head of security at Purdue Pharma just last year. Also, in Eban's book "Deadly Doses" J. Aaron Graham is referenced throughout her book. Guess she didn't think I would be interested in her connection to Graham and Purdue Pharma. The article is shown below.
After reading the "New York Times" article, I sent the following email to Ms. Eban -- "I have someone for you to talk with -- Aaron Graham, former head of security with PP (Purdue Pharma).
I received the following reply from Ms. Eban - "Yes, a good suggestion, thanks. What do you think his take is on the company?"
I did not reply to her email. But I know why I was called yesterday and interviewed by Ms. Eban.. My "take" on Ms. Eban is "Who do you work for Fortune Magazine -- or Purdue Pharma?" Sorry I'm not a Rhodes Scholar, but something is very unethical here.
Are You Buying Illegal Drugs?
By KATHERINE EBAN and J. AARON GRAHAM
Published: March 31, 2010
LAST month, thieves cut through the roof of an Eli Lilly warehouse in Enfield, Conn., shimmied down a rope, disabled the alarms and made off with $75 million worth of psychiatric drugs, including the antidepressants Prozac and Cymbalta and the antipsychotic Zyprexa. It is thought to have been the largest pharmaceutical theft in history.
News reports expressed some puzzlement over the crime. Why would burglars go after medicines rather than diamonds or art? And when did pharmaceutical thieves graduate from Oxycontin stickups to the big time?
The answers lie in our haphazardly regulated pharmaceutical supply chain and the dangerous gray market that intersects it. As soon as medicines leave manufacturers’ loading docks, they enter a market teeming with middlemen, many legitimate but some not. The drugs may move through a dozen hands, through small secondary wholesalers and repackagers. With so many middlemen involved, thieves can easily unload stolen drugs, which may be resold to pharmacies and hospitals and dispensed to you and me.
If the drugs are real, why should we care? Because pharmaceuticals need to be stored properly — generally in dry air at a steady temperature. Thieves — and the secondary wholesalers who buy from them — don’t mind keeping their products in hot, humid conditions, which can degrade medicines or even alter their chemical composition.
Last June, after 129,000 vials of Novo Nordisk’s long-acting insulin were stolen from a parked truck in North Carolina, the Food and Drug Administration warned diabetes patients not to take drugs with the stolen lot numbers. But it was too late. The vials turned up in a Texas medical center. Because the insulin had not been refrigerated, patients who used it developed unsafe blood-sugar levels. The authorities have recovered only 2 percent of the missing vials.
Vials of stolen or diverted drugs can also wind up in the hands of counterfeiters, who may relabel them or even replace their contents with cheaper ingredients. Such counterfeits also find their way into the legitimate supply. In 2002, Timothy Fagan, a 16-year-old on Long Island, experienced painful spasms after getting a diverted dose of Epogen to treat his anemia after a liver transplant. The drug had been relabeled, stored in the back of a strip club and ultimately resold to a national wholesaler and dispensed by a pharmacy.
In the wake of the Connecticut theft, Eli Lilly tried to reassure consumers
by asserting that the American drug distribution system is “tightly controlled and monitored, making it extremely difficult for stolen product to make it to patients through legitimate channels.” Yet common sense tells us that you don’t steal a big volume of anything unless you know you can resell it.
Pharmaceuticals account for only 5 percent of all cargo thefts, according to FreightWatch International, a freight security company. This is far less than electronics, the most-stolen kind of cargo, which account for almost a fourth. But drugs are in first place in the category of value per incident. Last year, while the average electronics theft amounted to $814,000, the average pharmaceutical theft was worth $4 million. Since 2006, the number of drug thefts has quadrupled.
Consumers could be protected from this. Track-and-trace technology can put a unique code on each bottle, even each pill produced. Unfortunately, Eli Lilly’s psychiatric drugs left that Connecticut warehouse with neither. Drug companies are apparently reluctant to pay the nominal cost of tagging pills and bottles (only about 25 cents a bottle, after an initial investment of $1 million to $2 million). Unlike consumers, they are protected from theft by insurance. The F.D.A. should require that drug makers tag every bottle.
Without track-and-trace technology the only way a manufacturer can retrieve stolen drugs is to recall all the packages in the affected lot number, but that may include thousands when only a few hundred have been stolen. Manufacturers are understandably reluctant to issue such large, costly recalls.
With track-and-trace technology, on the other hand, it is easy to find the packages that are safely in the possession of legitimate wholesalers, hospitals and drugstores. A limited recall is therefore easier. With an Internet connection and an electronic reader, institutions that are licensed to buy drugs would be able to cross-check inventory against a central database to find out if drugs on their shelves had been stolen. And if stolen drugs were that easy to detect, the market for them would quickly shrink.
Katherine Eban is the author of “Dangerous Doses: A True Story of Cops, Counterfeiters and the Contamination of America’s Drug Supply.” J. Aaron Graham, a former agent for the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, was the chief security officer for Purdue Pharma from 2002 to 2008.
LP - You are such a gift to me in love, support, encouragement, belief in me and the list goes on. I cherish you more today than yesterday and even more tomorrow.
Salem-News.com 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.
National Activist for Victims of OxyContin and
Purdue Pharma - a criminally convicted pharmaceutical company
Staff Writer, Salem-News.com