The purpose of this site is to
bring awareness on how easy it is to overdose Oxycontin(Oxy's)
it's other ABUSE dangers and the dangers of Prescription Drug
in the memory of Eddie Bisch.
- Relatives Against Purdue Pharma
Currently oxycontin is approved for moderate-severe
pain. The sad truth is too many people are faking moderate
pain and selling the pills on the street. After all we would
NOT have these OXY related death's if the kids were not able
to buy oxy on the street. Also so many death's and addiction
happen to people who NEVER should of been prescribed it in the
first place. We need oxy reclassified to it's
original use which is CANCER and SEVERE pain.
Larry Golbom of Florida speaks
at a rally in Abingdon, Va., against the company
that made and marketed OxyContin.
ABINGDON, Va. --A pharmaceutical company and three
executives were fined $634.5 million Friday for the
deceptive marketing of OxyContin, a painkiller that
reaped billions for the company and misery for its
Before accepting a plea agreement between federal
prosecutors and Purdue Pharma, Judge James Jones said
he was troubled by the lack of jail sentences for
three company officials.
"While this may not be a popular decision, my job
is not to make popular decisions but to follow the
law," Jones said.
Earlier in the day, the three Purdue executives sat
impassively through emotional statements by people who
blame them for the overdose deaths of their loved
ones. Other speakers recounted their own near-death
experiences with addiction to a potent painkiller
hailed by the company as a miracle drug in the fight
One woman brandished an urn holding the ashes of
her cremated son at the defendants.
"This is from your drug, OxyContin, and here he is,
in this courtroom," said Lee Nuss of Palm Coast, Fla.,
whose 18-year-old son, Randall, died from an overdose.
"Here he is, for you all to see."
Friday's sentencing in U.S. District Court in
Abingdon ended a lengthy federal investigation that
forced guilty pleas from a company that has long
argued it should not be held responsible for what
happens when its painkiller is abused.
It also put three millionaires in the defendant's
chair, forcing them to travel from Connecticut, where
Purdue is based, to a small mountain town that once
was an epicenter of OxyContin abuse.
Also making the trip to Abingdon were about 50
people from around the country who held a vigil near
the courthouse in a steady rain before going inside.
"Gentlemen, you are responsible for a modern-day
plague," the mother of an addict told Michael
Friedman, Howard Udell and Paul Goldenheim. Other
speakers called the three men monsters, corporate drug
lords, sheer evil and as bad as Adolf Hitler.
At a hearing in May, Purdue and its three
executives admitted to their roles in misbranding the
drug or misleading doctors about its propensity for
abuse and addiction during a nationwide marketing
At the time, Friedman was the company's president
and chief executive officer, Udell was its chief legal
counsel and Goldenheim was the director of medical
affairs. Friedman and Goldenheim have since retired.
Jones placed all three men on probation for three
years and ordered them to perform 400 hours of
community service related to treatment or education
issues involving prescription drug abuse.
"I do not doubt that many of our fellow citizens,
with only a passing knowledge of this case gleaned
from the headlines, will deem it inappropriate that no
jail time is imposed," the judge said.
"It bothers me, too."
However, Jones said it would be improper to send
someone to jail for something they didn't actually do.
Under a rarely used law, Friedman, Udell and
Goldenheim were held criminally accountable for
misbranding committed by other company officials. In
order to obtain convictions, prosecutors did not have
to prove they even knew that crimes were being
committed under their watch.
Not only were the convictions based solely on the
executives' positions of responsibility, there was
also no evidence to link the misbranding to rampant
abuse of OxyContin.
"It does not for one minute disrespect the
suffering of these families to say that there is
absolutely nothing ... to suggest that the misbranding
in any way contributed to, let alone was responsible
for, their suffering," said Howard Shapiro, a
Washington, D.C., attorney who represented Purdue.
Although prosecutors have alluded to such a
connection, they did not have to prove one.
Under the plea agreement, Friedman, Udell and
Goldenheim paid combined fines of $34.5 million for
their misdemeanor offenses
Purdue Frederick, the parent company of Purdue
Pharma, pleaded guilty to a felony of misbranding with
the intent to defraud. It will shoulder the remaining
$600 million in fines and forfeitures. Most of the
money will go to cover losses by government programs
that paid for OxyContin prescriptions and to other
state and federal agencies.
The fine is one of the largest ever assessed
against a pharmaceutical company.
In asking Jones to accept the plea agreement,
Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy Ramseyer said the
"unprecedented" convictions will force the entire
industry to be more vigilant in guarding against
prescription drug abuse.
"By pleading guilty, they are admitting that doing
nothing is not good enough," Ramseyer said. "They
should have done something."
Before Friday's sentencing, about 50 people
attended a rally near the courthouse, holding posters
with slogans such as "Oxy kills" and "Purdue Pharma
murdered my wife."
Speakers read the names of people from across the
country who died from OxyContin overdoses. The list
was 50 pages long. They had only read the first 10
pages before it was time to leave.
Robert Palmisano, a recovering addict, wiped tears
from his eyes as he read the names in a voice that
"It almost took my life. I know people whose lives
it took. It doesn't need to take any more," Palmisano
In far Southwest Virginia alone, more than 200
people have died in the past decade from overdoses of
oxycodone, an opium-based narcotic that is the active
ingredient in OxyContin. Police have also reported
dramatic increases in crime as addicts turn to fraud,
theft and violence to support their habits.
U.S. Attorney John Brownlee has called OxyContin
one of the worst prescription drug failures in the
"Every time someone hears the word OxyContin, they
will think in their minds, that's the drug the company
was convicted for," Brownlee said. "I think that goes
a long way."
OxyContin execs hear Tampa mom's anguish at sentencing
Julie Rinaldi drove north to tell of her
daughter's death. Still, no jail for the executives
who misbranded the drug.
By ABBIE VANSICKLE
Published July 21, 2007
Julie Rinaldi, mother of Sarah Nicole Rinaldi,
who died when she was seventeen from taking
oxycontin, gets some comfort from her friend
Lynn Locascio of Palm Harbor. The two were at a
rally held by victims' families before the
[Times photo: Brian Cassella]
Sarah Rinaldi was 17 when she died in June
2006 of a combination of OxyContin and other
drugs. A New Tampa high schooler, Sarah took
a deadly dose of drugs after a night at an
Ybor City nightclub.
[Times photo: XXXX]
Larry Golbom of Clearwater speaks
passionately at a rally in Abingdon about
Breaking News Video
ABINGDON, VA - The federal judge had people just
like Julie Rinaldi in mind when he invited anyone
victimized by powerful painkiller OxyContin into his
rural Virginia courtroom to speak before he sentenced
The Tampa mom packed a snapshot of her dead
daughter with her on the trek to the tiny town tucked
into the Appalachian hills. Another mom brought her
son's ashes into court in an urn. Others carried the
painful memories of young lives ended.
U.S. District Judge James Jones sentenced three top
executives with Purdue Pharma Friday, accepting a plea
agreement that fined the Connecticut company and
executives $634.5-million. The judge agreed to the
deal, but added three years probation with community
service for each executive.
They were pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge
of misbranding a drug, and could have been sentenced
to up to a year in jail.
Jones was visibly troubled that the agreement did
not include incarceration or designate a specific
amount of money for rehabilitation and education, but
prosecutors said the deal would bring justice in the
After hearing more than two hours of poignant
stories from the victims, the judge decided to add a
personal touch to the sentence.
He required that each of the three executive spend
their probation doing community service helping people
who are dealing with prescription drug abuse.
"It's not perfect - I'm the first one to admit that
- but it's fair, and it's just," said U.S. Attorney
Julie Rinaldi's daughter, Sarah, was 17 when she
died in June 2006 of a combination of OxyContin and
other drugs. A New Tampa high schooler, Sarah took a
deadly dose of drugs after a night at an Ybor City
Since then, her mother and circle of suburban
friends have gotten quite an education in the
painkiller and addiction.
Online they learned of the U.S. attorney's case
against the makers of OxyContin, a case set against
the backdrop of the rural poverty of southwestern
Virginia, among the first communities to report a
connection between the painkiller and addiction.
Online the women also learned OxyContin-maker
Purdue Pharma claimed the drug's marketing campaign
was a victimless crime. So when Rinaldi and her
friends heard the judge wanted to hear from anyone who
felt otherwise, they headed north.
Kim Lang, 43, another Tampa mom whose son struggles
with prescription drug abuse, drove more than 12 hours
to get to the courthouse. She brought her son, Justin
Skamarycz, 20, with her. They stopped to pick up
Rinaldi, 47, who was vacationing in Gatlinburg, Tenn.
They wore matching pink-and-black T-shirts that read
"Pink Star," the foundation Rinaldi started to help
others battling drug abuse.
Rinaldi and Lang want to tell other parents they're
not alone, that prescription drug abuse is not the
fault of teens or bad parenting.
"I played jazz music to him, I read books to him
when I was pregnant," Lang said. "They blame the kids.
When they're done blaming the kids, they blame the
As rain beat down, Rinaldi and Lang wrapped clear
plastic scarves over their heads and tried to stay
dry, joining about 50 people for a rally in an
Abingdon park. They carried pink signs with Sarah's
picture and a banner.
They listened as people from around the country
shared their pain. A group of mothers from
Massachusetts in blue T-shirts. A California doctor
and his wife whose son died. A Largo man who hosts a
radio show on prescription drug abuse.
The judge gave each person two minutes to tell
Rinaldi wanted to show the judge Sarah's face, but
photos weren't allowed. Soaked to the bone, she
changed into fresh clothes for court and carried a few
notes to calm her nerves.
People spoke in alphabetical order, and the judge
let them exceed the time limit. Many spoke firmly, and
directed comments at the three executives: Michael
Friedman, the company's former president, attorney
Howard Udell and former medical director Dr. Paul
As Rinaldi walked to the lectern, she thought of
Sarah. She was doing this for her girl.
"I'm just here as a mom, a mom that will never be
called Grandma," she told the judge, her voice steady
and clear. She didn't say what punishment she hoped
for, only that she wanted accountability for the
executives. She told him about the deaths in the Tampa
Bay area, that on the drive up she got a call about
another teen's death.
"Nobody is being held responsible for anything
these days," she said.
As Lang sat watching her friend, she wanted to
stand up and demand answers, like in one of those
"Right now, I want to be Erin Brockovich," she
Attorneys for the three defendants said their
clients were all moral and upstanding men. They also
said none of them participated in the false marketing
of the drug, which violated company policy.
The defense also put on witnesses who said they had
been helped by OxyContin.
Dillie R. Walker, 48, a tool and die maker from Bay
City, Mich., who suffered a back injury on the job,
said that after he started taking OxyContin, "I felt
better for the first time in years."
It was 4:20 p.m. by the time the judge announced
"While this may not be a popular decision, my job
is not to make popular decisions but to follow the
law," Jones said.
The executives didn't have any comment on the
sentence. The prosecutors said they were pleased with
"The judge got it right," Lang said. "It sends a
message to corporate America. You will be held
Rinaldi felt she had done right.
"I was just thinking about my girl and getting her
some kind of justice," she said.
ABINGDON � Three Purdue Pharma
executives will each serve three years probation and
do 400 hours of community service for their
corporation�s misbranding of the drug OxyContin, a
federal judge ruled Friday.
The community service will be "related
to prescription drug abuse treatment and prevention,"
U.S. District Judge James Jones said.
The drug has been blamed for hundreds
of deaths in Southwest Virginia and hundreds more
across the nation.
The three men pleaded guilty in an
agreement that their sentences would not include
prison time, and their attorneys argued Friday the
guilty plea itself was a harsh punishment. Mary Jo
White, Howard Udell�s attorney, went so far as to say
it was a "personal tragedy" for her client.
Jones said the lack of time behind
bars bothered him, but he accepted the plea
agreements, adding probation and community service to
monetary penalties agreed upon in the settlement.
"While it may not be a popular
decision [to accept the plea agreements], my job is
not to make popular decisions, but to follow the law,"
Purdue Pharma admitted guilt in May to
felony misbranding of a drug with intent to defraud or
mislead. The executives pleaded guilty to one
misdemeanor apiece for being the responsible corporate
officers when the misbranding occurred.
As part of the plea agreement, the
company agreed to pay $634.5 million, and the three
executives � Michael Friedman, Udell and Paul
Goldenheim � agreed to pay a combined $34.5 million.
The total makes it one of the largest
drug company settlements in history, and it comes
after the failure of more than a hundred civil
lawsuits against the company.
"Judge Jones� acceptance of the
settlement concludes this matter, and we welcome its
resolution," reads a statement released by Purdue
immediately after the ruling.
"�we have worked for years with the
medical community and law enforcement to fight illegal
trafficking of our and other prescription medicines.
We will continue to do so."
The plea agreement was made to avoid
prison time; the executives� crime carries a penalty
of up to a year behind bars.
Jones imposed the probation and
community service in addition to the financial
penalties negotiated in the plea agreement, in which
both the company and executives waived their right to
appeal their sentencing.
U.S. Attorney John Brownlee said he
hopes the unprecedented ruling will put some heat on
drug company executives to make sure their products
are marketed accurately.
"My hope is that other pharmaceutical
companies see what happened here today," Brownlee
said. "A big part of this case is deterrence."
He also noted that a portion of the
settlement � $130 million � is set aside for paying
private civil claims.
"It�s not a cap, that�s just an amount
that we require that they set aside," Brownlee said.
He said the federal investigation into
Purdue�s marketing practices began as the result of
the devastating effects of OxyContin use in Southwest
Local law enforcement officials say
the drug appeared suddenly as the pill of choice among
illegal drug users.
"In the late �90s, I was in charge of
the drug unit, and I remember the first OxyContin
[undercover] purchase we ever made off an individual
here, and at that time � we had to call a pharmacist
to see [what it was]," said Maj. Greg Baker, deputy
police chief in Bristol Virginia.
"And we called the pharmacist and he
told us what schedule it was, and from that moment on
it was like it just suddenly was here."
Recently, the drug has become less
prevalent in the area, law enforcement officers say,
but for several years it wreaked havoc on the region.
When it is crushed and ingested all at
once, the time-release pill is said to have effects
similar to that of heroin � and it can be lethal.
Because of this effect, many of the
young people who�ve died from OxyContin overdoses were
what activists call a "one-pill kill."
About 75 people from around the nation
withstood rain in Abingdon on Friday to talk about how
the drug has damaged their lives and hear how it has
damaged the lives of others.
They called for severe punishment of
the Purdue Pharma executives and stricter control of
The buzz outside the courthouse after
the ruling was that they were glad Jones gave the
executives more than just a financial
OxyContin contains oxycodone, a very strong
narcotic pain reliever similar to morphine. Because
OxyContin is time-released, breaking, chewing or
crushing it may result in overdose. It is intended to
relieve moderate to severe pain that is present all
the time. Combining OxyContin with sleeping pills,
tranquilizers and other pain medications, or with
alcohol, may result in injury or death. Taking
OxyContin daily can result in physical dependence.
ABINGDON, Va., July 20 � After hearing wrenching
testimony from parents of young adults who died from
overdoses involving the painkiller
OxyContin, a federal judge Friday sentenced
three top executives of the company that makes the
narcotic to three years� probation and 400 hours
each of community service in drug treatment
In announcing the unorthodox sentence,
Judge James P. Jones of United States District Court
indicated that he was troubled by his inability to
send the executives to prison. But he noted that
federal prosecutors had not produced evidence as
part of recent plea deals to show that the officials
were aware of wrongdoing at the drug�s maker, Purdue
Pharma of Stamford, Conn.
The sentences announced by Judge Jones came at
the end of a lengthy and highly emotional hearing at
a small brick courthouse in this town in far western
Virginia. Parents of teenagers and young adults who
died from overdoses while trying to get high from
OxyContin arrived here from as far away as Florida,
Massachusetts and California.
Given the opportunity to speak, they both
memorialized their lost children and lambasted
Purdue Pharma and its executives, saying they bore a
responsibility for those deaths. They also urged
Judge Jones to throw out the plea agreements and
send the executives to jail.
�Our children were not drug addicts, they were
typical teenagers,� said Teresa Ashcraft, who said
that her son Robert died of an overdose at age 19.
�We have been given a life sentence due to their
lies and greed.�
Another women held up a jar that she said
contained the ashes of the dead son.
OxyContin, which is a long-acting time-release
form of the narcotic oxycodone, is used to treat
serious pain. Several reports have suggested that
Purdue may have helped fuel widespread abuse of the
drug by aggressively promoting it to general
practitioners not skilled in either pain treatment
or in recognizing drug abuse. The company has denied
such a connection. Among those who testified at the
hearing were some patients who told about the pain
relief they received from OxyContin.
This bucolic town is not far from the spine of
the Appalachian Mountains and Kentucky and
Tennessee, where abuse of OxyContin exploded in
early 2000, just a few years after it was first
sold. Both addicts and young experimenters quickly
discovered that a pill needed only to be chewed or
crushed before ingesting to release large doses of
oxycodone, which produced a heroinlike high.
In May, a holding company affiliated with Purdue
Pharma pleaded guilty to a felony charge that it had
fraudulently claimed to doctors and patients that
OxyContin would cause less abuse and addiction than
competing short-acting narcotics like Percocet and
Food and Drug Administration had allowed the
company to claim only that it �believed� that the
drug, because it was long-acting, might be less
prone to abuse.
To settle that charge, Purdue Frederick, the
holding company, agreed to pay $600 million in fines
and other payments, and the executives agreed to pay
$34.5 million in fines. In accepting that deal,
Judge Jones put the company on five years�
In a statement issued Friday, Purdue Pharma said
that �Judge Jones�s acceptance of the settlement
concludes this matter and we welcome its
That ruling, however, does not mean the end of
legal problems for Purdue Pharma, which is owned by
the Sackler family, known for its contributions to
institutions like the
Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. A number
of insurers had lawsuits against it seeking
compensation for what they say were unnecessary
prescriptions for OxyContin, a very expensive drug,
that were written because of the company�s false
Defense lawyers for the three executives involved
� Michael Friedman, the company�s president until
recently; Howard R. Udell, its top lawyer; and Dr.
Paul D. Goldenheim, its former medical director �
all urged Judge Jones not to put their clients on
The executives had pleaded guilty to misdemeanor
charges of misbranding, a crime that does not
require prosecutors to show that they knew about
wrongdoing or intended to defraud anyone. And
defense lawyers said their only crime was heading
Purdue Pharma at time when others were committing
They also described their clients in glowing
terms. For example,
Mary Jo White, a former United States attorney
in New York who represented Mr. Udell, described the
lawyer as the �moral compass� of Purdue Pharma. Had
he known about wrongdoing, Ms. White said, he �would
have done everything in his power to stop it.�
Judge Jones appeared unmoved by such arguments.
And while he said a lack of jail time was the �most
difficult� part of accepting the plea agreements, he
added that his hands were legally tied because
prosecutors had not provided him with evidence on
which to act.
Still, he appeared to be sending out a message by
placing the executives on three years of probation
and ordering them to perform 400 hours of service in
a drug abuse or drug treatment program.
�As we have heard today, prescription drug abuse
is rampant in all parts of this country,� Judge
At an earlier outdoor rally Friday attended by
about 50 people, including many of those who would
later testify at the hearing, there was ample
testimony to that problem.
Assembled around a bandstand where speakers stood
to castigate Purdue Pharma as a �corporate drug
pusher� were photographs of teenagers and young
adults at parties, family trips or graduation
The legend over one young man�s photograph read
�One Pill Killed.�