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Purdue Knew.

According to an LATimes article, Purdue pharma knew about rampant diversion of Oxycontin for years, and never informed the DEA.  Instead, the giant, family-owned pharmaceutical manufacturer continued supplying huge quantities of its most powerful version of Oxy to pharmacies, racking up $31 billion in revenues in the process.

Sure, Purdue eventually informed officials – years after “the clinic was out of business and its leaders indicted.”

In the interim, just one physician, in one clinic, in just the first few months it was operational, prescribed 73,000 80 mg pills.

This from the LATimes:

A sales manager went to check out the clinic and the company launched an investigation. It eventually concluded that Lake Medical [the clinic] was working with a corrupt pharmacy in Huntington Park to obtain large quantities of OxyContin.

“Shouldn’t the DEA be contacted about this?” the sales manager, Michele Ringler, told company officials in a 2009 email. Later that evening, she added, “I feel very certain this is an organized drug ring…”

Purdue did not shut off the supply of highly addictive OxyContin and did not tell authorities what it knew about Lake Medical until several years later when the clinic was out of business and its leaders indicted.

By that time, 1.1 million pills had spilled into the hands of Armenian mobsters, the Crips gang and other criminals. [emphasis added]

LATimes reporters Harriet Ryan, Lisa Girion, and Scott Glover have done a remarkable job chronicling the devastation wrought by the flood of Oxycontin into California, a flood that spread pills across the country and directly contributed to the 194,000 deaths from opioid painkillers since 1999.

According to the article, Purdue knew about this activity, delayed reporting it to officials for years, and kept supplying tens of thousands of these horribly addictive pills to pharmacies Purdue’s own representative was “very certain” involved an organized drug ring.

194,000 dead Americans.  $31 billion in revenues.  Millions of shattered families. A company owned by one of the richest families in America, a fortune built on creative ways to generate scripts – and on addiction and diversion.

Sometimes what passes for legitimate business in America horrifies me.

Where’s the class-action law suit?

6 thoughts on “Purdue Knew.”

  1. If this had been a Mexican drug cartel pushing this much marijuana into the gangs, the leaders of the cartel would have certainly been arrested and tried along with all the actual pushers. But because of the ‘legality’ of big pharma, none of the actual cartel leaders will be prosecuted for pushing a much more dangerous drug out into the community. The only ones prosecuted were the low level pushers, not the leaders.

  2. Giuliani Partners was retained by Purdue in 2002 and was deeply engaged defending the company against federal fines and negative publicity. Perhaps Rudolf Giuliani should be asked to comment.

  3. Why has law enforcement, DOJ not exterminated the gangs and organized crime in this country? Its seems that they lose focus on a problem, move on to another before the first one is even dealt with. Relying on large governmental organizations and corporations is at best foolhardy if not down right dangerous to our health, safety and communities. The damage done to the community of Everett, Washington by the criminal gangs and the pharmacy involved deserve the ultimate punishment. Unfortunately, blame here and punishment will likely go to the folks with the most money, our government now likes to punish us by having us write a really big check for cash and then letting us move on.

  4. The Sackler family who founded Purdue are worth 13 billion. These are truly the wages of sin. Shamed to say that the patriarch is a fellow psychiatrist, but so was the genocidal maniac Radovan Karadzic.

    They have tried to sanitize their drug dealing and merchant of death reality by philanthropy, but it does not wash. Med Schools, museums and more bear their name.

    Sadly, I strongly doubt the family reputation or wealth will be damaged or moved by any legal or economic sanctions in the future.

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Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates




A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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