Purdue Pharma, maker of the drug Oxycontin, is a tough opponent in court. The multibillion dollar pharmaceutical company has won over 400 personal injury lawsuits and crushed more than 10 class action lawsuits brought against the infamous painkiller. But Purdue had never gone to trial for Oxycontin abuse until now. The drug maker has been accused of “laying waste” to Eastern Kentucky, including the small Appalachian coal town of Pikeville. The price: $1 billion plus punitive damages.
Known as “hillbilly heroin” for its popularity in rural areas of the US, Oxycontin is a potent opioid that promises 12 hours of pain relief. Because of its time-release mechanism, a pill contains more active ingredient than other drugs. When the drug was first released in the mid 1990s, it didn’t take long before drug abusers learned that crushing and snorting or injecting the opioid negates the time-release effects and delivers a fast and powerful high. By 2001, Oxycontin sales soared at over $1 billion.
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