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Company to Pay Over $600 Million for Promoting OxyContin

Company falsely represented painkiller to physicians

MONDAY, May 14 (HealthDay News) -- The Purdue Frederick Company, Inc., of Norwalk, Conn., has agreed to pay over $600 million to settle charges from a U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigation into the company's sales tactics regarding the prescription pain relief drug OxyContin.

The firm pled guilty to a felony count of misbranding a drug with intent to defraud and mislead. The FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations said the company sold the drug through a number of illegal schemes, and trained staff to tell health care providers the drug did not cause euphoria and was less addictive than immediate-release opiates. The drug labeling also contained false information regarding the drug's liability for abuse, by stating that compared with immediate-release oxycodone, OxyContin caused fewer ups and downs.

The fine, which will resolve criminal charges, includes over $276 million in forfeiture as well as a criminal fine and restitution to government agencies. A civil settlement of $100.6 million payable to the United States will resolve the company's civil liabilities.

"FDA will not tolerate practices that falsely promote drug products and place consumers at health risk," said Margaret O.K. Glavin, FDA's associate commissioner for regulatory affairs, in a statement. "We will continue to do all we can to protect the public against drug companies and their representatives who are not truthful and bilk consumers of precious health care dollars," she added.

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