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 Abuse
   in the memory of Eddie Bisch.

Drug Deals

Orlando Weekly

First came the e-mail hinting at dirt on the Orlando Sentinel. And I bit. Then came the phone call, and I bit again. Then came the documents, and I continued to chomp. Who can resist the tantalizing allure of afflicting the afflicters? Most people, probably, but I do not count myself among them. I know how journalism is made -- news, like hot dogs, is a product you should not inspect closely if you wish to keep consuming it. And I am well versed in the haughty, insular nature of monopoly dailies. It's all polish, professionalism and public editors on the outside, but there are bones in the closet.

In retrospect I see that I was played. By the best, in fact, but that's little consolation. The only way to salvage this ugly affair is to turn it into a short (I promise) tutorial on corporate protectionism.

In October, the Sentinel published a five-day series on the dangers of OxyContin, a potent prescription painkiller with a troubling history of overdoses. Reporter Doris Bloodsworth did nine months of the requisite legwork, examining 500 autopsy reports from around the state, 5,000 pages of documents from a state inquiry into the marketing of OxyContin, and scores of interviews with doctors and families. Bloodsworth was able to link some 200 deaths in 2001 and 2002 to the painkiller, the same stuff that Rush Limbaugh was hooked on. (Why oh why ... never mind.)

In the past, OxyContin has been criticized as being the prescription drug of choice for abusers, who crush the pill and snort it, bypassing its time-release mechanism. Doing so sometimes has the unpleasant side effect of death. Of course Purdue Pharma, the makers of OxyContin, can't be held responsible for the misbehavior of addicts. You are supposed to take the pills whole; it says so right on the label.

But Bloodsworth was interested in deaths among people taking OxyContin correctly, under the supervision of a physician. That kind of publicity can seriously cut into a company's bottom line.

So Purdue got busy picking the series apart, and Orlando Weekly got a phone call from their PR agency in Tampa (red flag there). Would I be interested in debunking this "harmful and misleading" series of articles, wondered Robin Hogen, Purdue Pharma's vice president for public affairs? A deal with the devil, but why not hear what Old Scratch has to say?

After two months of high-priced lawyers scrutinizing the series, here's what Purdue Pharma came up with: David Rokisky, one of the innocent "victims" Bloodsworth wrote about, has a history of drug abuse; and Gerry Cover, a Kissimmee man who died of an overdose, had drugs besides oxycodone (the active ingredient in OxyContin) in his system.

Both are quasi-legitimate concerns. And both are indicative of how far Purdue will go to protect the franchise.

Bloodsworth interviewed Rokisky, who told her that until a doctor prescribed OxyContin, "Life was perfect." She also wrote that, "He didn't even drink or smoke." Purdue Pharma's lawyers, however, did a little background check on Rokisky and learned that he's also an ex-cop from Albuquerque who pled guilty to one count of distributing cocaine in April 2000, and who, according to his lawyer, "had problems" with cocaine and steroids.

Regarding Cover's death, Bloodsworth wrote, "An autopsy determined that he had a lethal dose of oxycodone." The autopsy actually says "toxic" instead of "lethal." It also notes the presence of several other prescription drugs in Cover's blood, and pegs "multidrug overdose" as the cause of death.

Purdue lawyers are also trying to make hay out of the idea that the Sentinel's analysis of autopsy reports doesn't conform to scientific standards, which is ridiculous. Reporting isn't analyzing, and the Sentinel isn't JAMA.

Said inaccuracies aside, what's interesting is what Purdue isn't contesting about the series. Bloodsworth wrote about the company's aggressive marketing campaign, which recently came under fire from the General Accounting Office, an investigative arm of congress. She also wrote about doctors who didn't fully understand what they were prescribing, the incredible profits Purdue made from OxyContin and the company's attack-dog tactics when criticized in the press.

"We found out very quickly that this wasn't about truth or facts or science," she quotes Hogen saying at public-relations seminar in 2002. "It was really about politics, and we had to think politically

"Including playing journalists to do their bidding. I feel so dirty.


A chilling attempt at damage control Wednesday

March 05, 2003
BY BOB BRAUN Star-Ledger Staff


The word for the day at a conference last week at Columbia University's National Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse in New York City.

Most participants were doctors and what "chilled" -- scared -- them were fears of running afoul of the law for prescribing pain medications. Heard it a lot. Doctors who knew doctors who were arrested because, it turns out, the guy who asked for relief for his backache was really collecting prescriptions for addictive drugs that could be sold on the street. Drugs like "hillbilly heroin."

That's what Laura Nagle, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent, calls OxyContin, a powerful opioid, potentially as addictive as morphine. In some states, especially in Appalachia, it's a bigger problem than heroin.

Oh-oh. Did I say "addictive"?

Well, Nagle did. But a guy named Robin Hogen gets upset if you use the word "addictive" -- although he accidentally used it himself to describe OxyContin. He quickly corrected himself to say it has the "same potential for abuse as morphine."

He is vice president for public affairs for Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin.

He is soft-spoken and amiable. He wears a bow tie and a pinstriped suit. He corrects misimpressions about OxyContin and warns you -- nicely -- to watch your words.

But something he said struck me as chilling indeed. He spoke of Jill Skolek, a 29-year-old mother from Phillipsburg who, last year, died after taking OxyContin for back pain. That led her mother,

Marianne, of Whitehouse Station, to crusade against the drug. Marianne, a nurse, wants the Food and Drug Administration to force Purdue to admit OxyContin is addictive. She also wants the FDA to stop Purdue from marketing the drug widely. She said Jill should never have been given so powerful a drug -- initially developed for cancer patients -- but doctors are not adequately warned.

After months of letters and complaints from Skolek, the FDA in January did issue a stern "warning letter" to Purdue Pharma LP. In part, it read:

"Your journal advertisements omit and minimize the serious safety risks associated with OxyContin, and promote it for uses beyond which have been proven safe and effective."

The FDA had issued an earlier letter, in May of 2000, saying advertising for OxyContin was misleading. Nearly 200 lawsuits have been filed against Purdue, including some by states. So far, about 20 have been dismissed.

This is what Hogen said about Jill Skolek: "We think she abused drugs."

The medical examiner didn't say that. Hogen admits he really doesn't know.

That's a pretty heavy charge to make against a young woman who died, leaving behind a 6-year-old son, Brian. Because Jill can't defend herself.

And, especially because it might lead journalists -- like me -- to avoid writing about her mother's efforts to hold a big pharmaceutical house accountable. No one wants to create sympathy for a junkie. But Jill was no junkie.

The stakes are high. For Purdue, which had $1.2 billion in OxyContin sales last year. And for thousands of people who may have died or become addicted after using it.

But that wasn't the only chilling thing Hogen said.

The conference featured a panel discussion that included Richard Blumenthal, the Connecticut attorney general, who described his efforts to get information about Purdue.

After the discussion, I spoke to Blumenthal. Off to the side. I asked him to clarify whether his efforts constituted an "investigation."

He had called it "an ongoing inquiry," but I didn't want to say he was investigating Purdue, a Stamford company, if he wasn't.

"Well, yes, you can call it an investigation," he said. "It might not be a criminal investigation, but it's an investigation."

That's right from the mouth of the attorney general.

Hours later, a message was left on my voice-mail. By Hogen. He said:

"I couldn't help but overhear your conversation with Attorney General Blumenthal at the end of the CASA conference and I'm concerned that you may misrepresent something he said tomorrow which involves the correspondence between Purdue and the attorney general's office.

"There is no investigation under way. I think what he told you was that there was an investigative effort, and what that means is that he has written a letter and asked us for some documents and our marketing plans for the last few years, samples of ads and marketing plans, which we're of course providing to him. We've already provided these to several newspapers in Florida. We're happy to provide them to our attorney general.

"But that does not constitute an investigation, and that would be inaccurate for you to report tomorrow that the attorney general of Connecticut has launched an investigation of Purdue Pharma.

"I do not think that's what he meant. I heard him say it, but I also heard him withdraw it and I think we've asked him point-blank about this and he has told us and I think he would tell you, if you gave him a moment to think about it, that Purdue is not, there is no investigation. There is an exchange of documents that does not constitute an investigation and I did want to clarify that and I would encourage you to call the attorney general and ask for a clarification because we do not want (sic), we've asked him the same question, and he has told us that this is not an investigation.

"It's a request for documents and there's a big difference."

A few notes: Hogen, of course, had no business listening in on my conversation.

I did ask Blumenthal for a clarification and he did say it was an "investigation."

A court, not Purdue, released those marketing documents in Florida after two newspapers sued the state, which had collected them in its own investigation.

And I had to think about how easily this man judged Jill Skolek and carelessly talked about her to a newsman. Jill can't leave a message clarifying what he said.

This was the public relations man's sign-off to me on my tape:

"Bob, I hope you take this in the spirit in which it is offered."

I sure did.

It was chilling.

OxyContin manufacturer: Don't forget the patients

By Paul Goldenheim, M.D. | My Word
Posted January 22, 2004

In the past few weeks, the Orlando Sentinel has reported on several new state and federal initiatives to address the problem of prescription-drug abuse in Florida. State Sen. Burt Saunders announced hearings to examine Medicaid fraud as it relates to the illegal diversion of prescription drugs; a separate task force, headed by Attorney General Charlie Crist and Florida drug czar James McDonough, will investigate the same issue; and U.S. Congressman John Mica announced that a House subcommittee will hold a hearing in February on this subject.

As the manufacturer of OxyContin (oxycodone HCl controlled-release) Tablets, we share these concerns about prescription-drug abuse in Florida. This problem is not a new phenomenon, however, and we must be careful that any proposed "cure" does not do more harm than the "disease" itself. In other words, measures designed to curb illegal trafficking and abuse of prescription drugs must not restrict access for patients who need these medications.

It is our hope that lawmakers will consider three very important points when addressing this problem. First, and most important, these medications when used appropriately help alleviate the pain of thousands of Floridians who otherwise would suffer needlessly. Second, it is the abuse of these medications, not the medications themselves, that is the cause of the problem. Third, according to the Florida Medical Examiners reports, the majority of drug-related fatalities occur from a lethal cocktail of several drugs.

A scientific study published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology reported the analysis of more than 1,000 autopsies of drug overdoses involving oxycodone from 23 states, including more than 300 from Florida, which occurred between August 1999 and January 2002. The study found that greater than 90 percent of deaths where oxycodone was present were due to drug abuse. In that same study, 268, or 94 percent, of those deaths in Florida involved drug abuse. All of them had multiple drugs present at autopsy.

Purdue Pharma has been on the front lines in the fight against the illegal trafficking and abuse of prescription drugs. In the state of Florida alone, we have spent more than $150,000 to educate 680 law-enforcement officers about how to combat prescription-drug trafficking. We have distributed some 35,000 tamper-resistant prescription pads to 2,200 physicians throughout the state, and sponsored over 500 educational programs for more than 135,000 health-care professionals on the appropriate use of pain medications. We are also underwriting "Communities That Care" programs in Tampa, Tallahassee and Palm Beach County to identify and address the root causes of substance abuse in these communities, at a cost of $25,000 per site.

In addition, Purdue has pledged $2 million toward the development of an innovative prescription-monitoring program in Florida that, once completed, could be shared with other states across the country. And we are working with the state's legislative leadership to gain support for the legislation needed to establish a prescription-monitoring program.

Purdue is taking these steps to ensure that criminal activity does not determine health-care policy in Florida. As lawmakers seek solutions to the problem of prescription-drug abuse, they must be sure that responsible health-care professionals can continue to provide effective and appropriate care to patients suffering from serious, unrelenting pain.

Paul Goldenheim, M.D. is executive vice president and chief scientific officer for Purdue Pharma L.P.


In reply to Dr Goldenheim of Purdue Pharma the Manufacturer of Oxycontin
RE: Don't forget the patients.

Doctor Goldenheim's letter is typical spin and deception that Purdue Pharma's Million Dollar PR staff has been putting out since the OXY epidemic has started.

The Doctor referenced a study in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology, what he failed to mention is that the study was funded by Purdue and the authors were all employees or paid consultants. Other studies NOT funded by Purdue Pharma have come up with much different results such as the one sanctioned by the DEA.

He also states that related fatalities occur from a lethal cocktail of drugs. What also may not be known to the common person is that it is routine practice for doctorsto prescribe multiple drugs for ailments that would require a prescription for oxycontin.

Doctor Goldenheim then goes into the company PR spiel of all the programs that Purdue has funded ranging from 25 to 150 thousand dollars. With annual salesof 1.5 Billion they certainly can afford this especially when you factor in the Public Relations benefit to the company.

He spouts they are so concerned that Purdue pledged 2 million dollars to a prescription monitoring program for Florida. Again what he left out was they only pledged this after they hired the former Florida Attorney's best friend as a lobbyist who engineered a deal that Florida drop an investigation against Purdue Pharma in exchange for this pledge.

In my opinion it is spin and deception like this, Purdue Pharma's failure to acknowledge the problem, their marketing this powerful narcotic to general practitioners for moderate pain which made this the deadliest prescription drug epidemic in modern history.

Drastic solutions such as limiting oxycontin to severe pain only or reducing who can prescribe it to properly trained specialists are now needed.

Purdue claims they are worried about any solution that may hurt patients, what they are really worried about is any solution that will affect sales and their bottom line..

I am just a grieving father who lost his only son. Eddie was a 18 year old Senior in High School an athlete and honor student. He made a huge mistake at a party, went to sleep and NEVER woke up.

This tragedy is being repeated over and over due to the wide availability of oxycontin on the street. Many other victim's who started out as legitimate patients have died or became addicted.

All this is documented as is more of their deception and spin in the guestbook of my website WWW.OXYABUSEKILLS.COM, the Orlando sentinel series, the book PAIN KILLER, the GAO report and many more media sources.

How did it get this far? Well This quote from one of the Congressman who has investigated this epidemic and requested the GAO report says it all:

"This report reinforces what I suspected all along: Purdue Pharma has engaged in highly questionable practices regarding the marketing of OxyContin, leaving a plague of abuse and broken lives in its path," said Kentucky Republican Rep. Hal Rogers, whose district has seen high levels of OxyContin abuse.

Ed Bisch

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OxyContin is a leading treatment for chronic pain, but official fear it may succeed crack cocaine on the street ...
Time Magazine

The abuse of prescription drugs represents close to 30% of the overall drug problem in the United States, a close second to only cocaine, according to the DEA.

It is highly addictive when abused...
Internet Health-Care

Edward Barbieri, a toxicologist at National Medical Services in Willow
Grove, said anyone can die from it if they chew it or crush it and then take it.