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Purdue Pharma Agrees to Pay $600 Million Fine for Misbranding Oxycontin

tes of addiction and crime related to use of the drug.

At a news conference Thursday in Roanoke, John L. Brownlee, the United States attorney for the Western District of Virginia, said the impact of Purdues marketing of OxyContin had resulted in rising crime rates, teenage drug addiction, deaths and other problems. The results of Purdues crimes were staggering, he said.

From 1996 to 2001, the number of oxycodone-related deaths nationwide increased fivefold while the annual number of OxyContin prescriptions increased nearly 20-fold, according to a report by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. In 2002, the DEA said the drug caused 146 deaths and contributed to another 318.

U.S. District Judge James Jones in Virginia placed the company on probation for five years and each of the executives on probation for three years. He also ordered the three to perform 400 hours of community service related to prevention of prescription drug abuse.

Jones said he would have preferred to have the plea agreements call for spending money on education of those at risk of drug abuse and treatment of those who are addicted to OxyContin. But Jones said he would not reject the agreement.

"Many young people mistakenly believe today that prescription drugs are safer than other drugs," Jones said.

The fines are to be distributed to state and federal law enforcement agencies, the federal government, federal and state Medicaid programs, a Virginia prescription monitoring program and individuals who had sued the company. About $5 million will go toward a six-year company program to monitor compliance with the agreement.

Survivors of the victims want the Food and Drug Administration to reclassify OxyContin for use only for severe pain. The drug currently can be prescribed for moderate pain.

Purdue has said it accepted responsibility for its employees' actions and has put in place trai
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