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

ning and monitoring programs to ensure overpromotion of OxyContin doesn't happen again. But officials objected to any ties between the plea agreement and abuse of the drug.

Many of those who gave statements had spoken at a rally before the hearing.

"One of my main infuriations with that company is that for years they denied there was an epidemic," said Ed Bisch of Palm Coast, Fla.

"The first time I heard the word OxyContin was when I was told my 18-year-old son died of an overdose," said Bisch.

Bisch, who has a Web site called www.oxyabusekills.com, drove to the hearing with two other parents, including Lee Nuss, who held up an urn slightly larger than a pill bottle that she said contained her son's ashes.

"I feel you are legal drug users, nothing more than a large corporate drug cartel," Nuss said addressing the Purdue Pharma contingent.

The coal-mining region of southwest Virginia where the sentencing took place has had a number of oxycodone-related deaths -- 119 from 2003 through 2005, according to the state medical examiner's office.

The guilty plea by Purdue Frederick, an affiliate of Purdue Pharma is the latest of a number of cases brought by the Justice Department against pharmaceutical makers that accuse them of misbranding, a broad statute that makes it a crime to put false or misleading information about a drug on its label or in ads, or to promote it for unapproved use.

Some drug industry critics said Thursday that while the fines sent an important message, the amounts were far too low, given the vast profits from OxyContin sales and the problems caused by the drug.

The damage to the public from these white-collared drug pushers surely exceeds the collective damage done by traditional street drug pushers, Dr. Sidney Wolfe, the director of the health research group at Public Citizen, an advocacy group in Washington, said. '"/>




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