Former Purdue execs fight court-ordered ban

Three former executives of OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma are trying to convince a federal appeals court to throw out a ruling debarring them from working with any government-financed health programs. Former general counsel Howard Udell, former CEO Michael Friedman, and former chief medical officer Paul Goldenheim were tried under a statute that holds corporate officers liable for the misconduct of their company, even if there was no proof of misconduct on their part for failing to prevent, detect or correct federal drug violations. Oral arguments are scheduled for Dec. 6 in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, according to this article.

The criminal misdemeanor charges stem from a 2007 case in which Purdue was found to misrepresent the addictive nature of OxyContin and was fined $634.5 million. The executives pled guilty, and though they didn’t face any jail time, they were excluded from working at corporations with government contracts, such as Medicare, for 12 years. The trio was held strictly liable as “responsible corporate officers” for the improper promotion of OxyContin because they had responsibility and authority to prevent the violation, but failed to do so. Now, they want the appeals court to either strike down or reduce the exclusion, arguing that they were guilty of “omissions, not acts” – in essence, they were found to be at fault due to their status, not their conduct, the article says. The government, on the other hand, claims Purdue caused huge financial losses to Medicaid programs that bought OxyContin based on the company’s false claims.

Read Purdue’s plea agreement in the 2007 case here. For more on the appeal, go here.

About Erin Marie Daly

I’m a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. My book on prescription drug and heroin addiction was published in August 2014 by Counterpoint Press.
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