Rowe Announces Settlement Over Oxycontin Advertising Practices

June 14, 2007

Attorney General Steve Rowe announced today that Maine and 25 other states, as well as the District of Columbia, have reached a settlement with Purdue Pharma regarding the narcotic pain medication OxyContin. The settlement resolves concerns that Purdue had engaged in extensive off-label marketing of OxyContin, a time-released, Schedule II opioid used for pain management of moderate to severe pain over an extended period of time, and that Purdue failed to adequately disclose abuse and diversion risks associated with the drug in violation of the states' respective consumer protection statutes.

Rowe said, "OxyContin abuse has ravaged the lives of thousands of Mainers, including entire families and communities. It has also contributed to increased crime rates and emergency medical treatment."

"Had Purdue Pharma limited its marketing to the drug's approved uses and disclosed the drug's abuse and diversion risks up front, it is likely that much of the devastation could have been prevented. This is a clear example of a pharmaceutical company putting corporate profits above the health and welfare of people."

The settlement, in the form of a Consent Judgment, has been filed in Kennebec County Superior Court. The settlement requires Purdue to market and promote OxyContin only in line with FDA-approved uses, prohibiting Purdue from making any false, misleading or deceptive claim regarding OxyContin. It also requires the company to continue its "OxyContin Abuse and Diversion Detection Program," established internally to detect problem prescribing, and requires all field personnel to undergo training on the program before being allowed to promote OxyContin.

Among the particular restrictions and requirements contained in the settlements, are provisions that Purdue must:

  • market and promote OxyContin in a manner consistent with its package insert and not in a manner that minimizes the approved uses for the drug;
  • not market or promote OxyContin for off-label purposes a€" those beyond the approved indications and uses of the drug;
  • have any recipient of funds or other remuneration for grants publicly disclose the existence of that remuneration;
  • not sponsor or fund any educational events where Purdue has knowledge that a speaker will recommend the off-label use of OxyContin;
  • not base Purdue sales representatives' bonuses solely on the volume of OxyContin prescribed; and
  • take into account in performance evaluations sales representatives' educating prescribers about OxyContin and its potential for abuse and diversion.

Finally, the settlement provides for a monetary payment by Purdue to the states in the amount of $19,500,000. Maine's share of the settlement is $719,500.

Taking part in the investigation of Purdue's business practices, as well as in today's settlement, are the following states : Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.