State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has reached an agreement with Purdue Pharma, a Connecticut-based pharmaceutical firm, to establish company-driven controls to prevent prescription drug abuse of opioids such as the powerful and addictive painkiller OxyContin.
The settlement, which resolves an investigation launched in December 2013, requires the company to pay $75,000 in penalties and costs, and tighten its anti-abuse program by requiring its sales force to more closely monitor the doctors who distribute its products.
Several Long Island health care professionals have been clients of Purdue Pharma, including at least three who have been arrested and charged with illegally selling, prescribing or distributing OxyContin.
"Over the past two decades, New York has experienced a sharp increase in opioid addiction and that has coincided with the substantially increased sale of oxycodone," Schneiderman said in a statement, referring to the generic name of OxyContin. "My office will work to ensure that prescription drugs are marketed and prescribed responsibly -- and that consumers get the information they need about the risks of addiction to painkillers."
The agreement requires Purdue to enhance its abuse and diversion detection program, a multifaceted regimen that, among other things, tasks the company's sales force to be on the watch for health care providers who could potentially be involved in the abuse or diversion of the drug. Purdue, like other pharmaceutical firms, has long had an ADD program, but the pact with Schneiderman tightens some of the controls.
The new measures Purdue will take include making certain the firm does not market its product to providers who may be acting illegally or inappropriately; sales representatives will more aggressively monitor health care providers for abuse and inappropriate or illegal activity, and placement on a "no-call" list; they will also be required to file reports about providers who may not be consulting a statewide database of patients' prescription histories before prescribing drugs; and the company will provide information about flagged health care providers to Schneiderman's office.
"We applaud Attorney General Schneiderman for recognizing that programs implemented by companies like Purdue are valuable in the fight against prescription drug abuse," stated Robin Abrams, associate general counsel for Purdue Pharma. "Rather than pursuing an expensive, lengthy and uncertain litigation-based approach, the attorney general's initiatives will yield immediate and improved efforts to address issues designed to enhance public health."
In addition, said a company spokesman, Purdue has launched a website, teamagainstopioidabuse.com, advocating "abuse deterrence" of opioids.
Schneiderman's investigation found that Purdue's sales representatives may not have identified health care providers who may have potentially been involved in the abuse or diversion of the painkiller or that the representatives did not sever ties with health care providers that had been placed on the company's own "no-call" list.
It also concluded that a pain management website run by Purdue, inthefaceofpain.com, suggested the content was neutral, though 11 people appearing on the site were paid nearly $231,000 over six years by Purdue.