Posted by: Jim | May 10, 2007

Thanks Michael

Michael Friedman, you were the CEO of Purdue Pharma L.P., and just pled guilty to misdemeanor charges that you misbranded your product “OxyContin.”

At some point you weighed the potential profits from your incredible pain-killing drug against the potential risks that result from its highly addictive qualities. You made the decision to lie about its addictiveness because, well, there was really quite a lot of money to be made.

I blame the death of my best friend on your decision.

You and your friends were fined $34.5 million, but I’m sure you will still have enough money squirelled away to find a nice nesting spot and grow old comfortably. I’m sure you’ll be able to look yourself in the mirror because … you’ve paid your debt now.

Rest well Steve … 1963 – 2004



  1. Drugs don’t kill people; people kill themselves.

    Obviously Purdue, like tobacco companies and corporations from just about every strata out there, went to great lengths to sell its product, downplaying the risks and padding the ‘miraculous’ claims. That’s pretty much standard operating procedure in today’s corporate world. I should know; I work in Marketing.

    Surely, when there are inherent dangers to a product, companies should exercise more restraint and responsibility than they do, and I’m not letting Purdue or anybody else off the hook — BUT they never marketed OxyContin as harmless candy. The main ingredient, Oxycodone, is a synthetic opiate that’s been around forever (ever hear of Percocet?), and you won’t find too many people — even hillbillies — who hear the word ‘opiate’ and don’t immediately think ‘addiction’. A lot of us also immediately think ‘ooh, nice buzz’. Those of us who are smart enough to balance those two impulses have the good sense to avoid going overboard with a patently dangerous, addictive substance, just like the vast majority of people who drink a martini or two after work don’t end up living in a dumpster or driving off a mountain road into oblivion. Some, however, do. But nobody sues Seagram’s for their blatant, unapologetic ‘Drink up! Live large! Get laid!’ advertising. Because adults are supposed to know that drinking too much is stupid, but somehow if we take too many pills, that’s not our own damn fault.

    Granted, I’m sure there are a few little old ladies and such who got hooked on Oxy out of ignorance — but I promise you their doctors knew what they were giving them, so either they didn’t warn them (which wouldn’t surprise me) or they didn’t pay attention (which wouldn’t surprise me either).

    Besides, Oxy taken as directed does what it’s supposed to do — timed-release pain relief — and it’s damn good at it. It’s only by crushing up the pills and deliberately overriding the timed-release mechanism that it becomes recreational, and that’s when it becomes the most risky. Most of the people who have damaged or killed themselves weren’t using the drug the way it was intended, and Purdue could have paid a cool zillion for a SuperBowl commercial saying how dangerous and addictive their product was, and it would have fallen on deaf ears. Those of us who enjoy recreational drug use are accustomed to the warnings — and you’re either stupid enough to overdo it or you’re not.

    I never knew Steve, Jim, but I’ve heard you speak of him enough to know he was determined to kill himself. I’m very sorry you lost your friend, and we’ve had this conversation before. But if he’d chosen instead to jump off a bridge, I doubt you’d be demanding the bridge be dismantled. There are lots of irrational people out there who blame inanimate objects or nonexistent demons for their own or others’ actions; I’ve never known you to be one of them.

    * * *

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