Prescription Opioids and Heroin - Our Kids are Dying!


Every time the word “stigma” is used in describing addiction, the pharmaceutical industry and their heavily funded pain foundation lobbying groups uses the word “stigma” to describe the chronic pain patient being denied long term addictive opioid treatment. 

Marianne Skolek Global News Centre

(MYRTLE BEACH)   In the 14 years I have been writing about the prescription opioid crisis which has evolved into a heroin epidemic, my frustration level has elevated.  In July 2007, I testified in front of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee about OxyContin and the criminal conviction of Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin.  My testimony is shown here:


United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Evaluating the Propriety and Adequacy of the OxyContin Criminal Settlement
July 31, 2007
Marianne Skolek

My name is Marianne Skolek. I had a beautiful 29 year old daughter named Jill. She had the misfortune of being prescribed OxyContin in January 2002 and was killed on April 29, 2002. Jill left behind her son Brian who was 6 years old at the time of his mom’s death. Brian is with me in the Senate today.

Why did a $9 billion privately held pharmaceutical corporation take the life of my precious daughter? My work against Purdue Pharma for the past 5 years initially focused on J. David Haddox, dentist turned psychiatrist and Senior Medical Director of Purdue Pharma. I also focused on Robin Hogen, former Public Relations spokesman for Purdue Pharma.

In 1996, the American Academy of Pain Medicine and the American Pain Society issued a set of guidelines for the use of opiates in the treatment of chronic pain. These guidelines are referred to as a “consensus statement.” The statement leaning toward a more liberal use of opiates was adopted just as the marketing push for OxyContin began. This consensus statement was produced by a task force, which was headed by J. David Haddox, former president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, who was senior medical advisor for Purdue Pharma – the maker of OxyContin. Haddox was quoted as saying that “the point was to gather consensus. If you are going to do this, this is how it should be done.” There was question as to whether it was ethical for Haddox to be associated with a pharmaceutical manufacturer to guide the formation of a document that would play a key role in promoting the use of products made by the company – Purdue Pharma.

When OxyContin was introduced on the market, it was intended for the treatment of cancer patients and they were losing the patent on MS Contin. At one point, in the greed and sheer evil of Purdue Pharma, they intended to market OxyContin to OB/GYN patients. I flooded the country with emails and faxes to Attorney Generals and the media reporting that we had enough devastation in the country without addicting infants to OxyContin. This marketing ploy was terminated by Purdue Pharma.

Pain patients from various pain societies will speak of the merits of OxyContin and their quality of life being restored because of the drug. These pain societies throughout the country – are funded by Purdue Pharma. Let the pain patients not a part of any funded pain society of Purdue Pharma speak about the quality of life they have after becoming addicted to OxyContin – and when their physicians refuse to renew prescriptions for the drug – and they go on the street to buy the drug because they can’t kick the habit of this less addictive drug. Ask the FDA and the DEA why OxyContin is in such plentiful supply on the streets all over the country.

Jill and thousands of victims of an out of control, greedy pharmaceutical company headed by three convicted criminals marketed OxyContin as less likely to be addictive and abused. There are assertions that the only victims in the criminal activities of Purdue Pharma were the physicians who were misled by Purdue Pharma’s sales representatives. The physicians, who were used as pawns by Purdue Pharma, were not ingesting a powerful narcotic that was being marketed as less likely to be addictive or abused – the patients were ingesting OxyContin and were becoming addicted and dying. If patients aren’t victims of Purdue Pharma’s criminal activities, tell me what they should be called.

The addictions and loss of lives because of OxyContin continue to impact every state in the country every single day. The far reaching consequences of the criminal activity of Purdue Pharma did not end in 2001 or 2002 as they would like it to be believed – no one can turn the clock back. This has been allowed to become a national crisis because there was no conscience in the marketing of OxyContin – there was only greed.

We all hear on the news every day about individuals who work for government agencies or private industry who embezzle funds. Purdue Pharma has been found criminally responsible for marketing OxyContin which resulted in death and addiction. Is it justice to have these convicted criminals – these monsters – fined an amount of money that is very well afforded by them, or will the Senate send a message that because of the magnitude of the crime committed, they deserve to be further investigated by the Senate.

Anything that is imposed against these convicted criminals will not give us back Jill, but I will guarantee that Purdue Pharma will never forget the name Jill Skolek. When I began my work at exposing these three convicted criminals and Haddox and Hogen, I told Hogen that you messed with the wrong mother – and they did because my work is not over.

I want to know why the FDA allowed OxyContin to cause such destruction to the lives of scores of innocent victims. I want to know why 12 warning letters were sent by the FDA to Purdue Pharma about their marketing of OxyContin and to this day, they are not required to put “highly addictive” or “addictive” on the label of the drug. I want to know why the FDA deleted without reading so many of my emails about the marketing of OxyContin until this last month. I want to know why Curtis Wright while employed by the FDA played an intricate part in the approval of OxyContin and then was hired by Purdue Pharma. I want to know why Attorney General Blumenthal of Connecticut’s Citizen Petition which requests strengthened warnings for OxyContin as a result of information they uncovered in their investigation against Purdue Pharma has been sitting at the FDA – without any action – since January 2004. I want to know how Rudy Guliani could be the “big star” hired by Purdue Pharma to play down the abuse and diversion of OxyContin and also get paid by the DEA for work performed for them. I want to know why the Sackler family has not been held accountable for their involvement with Purdue Pharma and the mass marketing of OxyContin.

Eventually Purdue Pharma will introduce another blockbuster drug similar to OxyContin and as they did with another devastating drug called Palladone. Palladone was removed from the market after a couple of months. I like to think that my faxes and emails all over the country played an intricate part in having it removed. My advice to Purdue Pharma is when you are ready to introduce another drug such as OxyContin or Palladone, look behind you, because I will be right there.

I will be working at having Howard Udell disbarred for his criminal activities and Paul Goldenheim’s medical license revoked for what amounts to white collar drug trafficking. I will be actively working at Friedman, Udell and Goldenheim never being able to work in the pharmaceutical industry again because they are convicted criminals who criminally marketed OxyContin. I will accomplish this – hopefully with the help of Attorney General Blumenthal — do not doubt me at not being successful at achieving this.

Her name was Jill Carol Skolek. She did not deserve to be prescribed OxyContin and die because of the criminal activities of individuals of Purdue Pharma . Please give my family justice and investigate the criminal activity of Purdue Pharma .

Thank you Senators for giving me the opportunity to speak for thousands of victims of an out of control pharmaceutical corporation.

There are many individuals and organizations who are not familiar with the greed and corruption that was involved leading to the catastrophic numbers of addictions and deaths throughout every state so I will take the liberty of challenging you on some issues as our children are dying every day.
After my testimony before the U.S. Senate in 2007, I watched as elected senators did nothing to investigate the criminal activities of Purdue Pharma.  I watched as an evil pharmaceutical company grew from a $9 billion corporation to currently approximately a $14 billion corporation — as convicted felons.  The Sackler Family, owners of Purdue Pharma, are now listed as one of the 20 wealthiest families in the U.S. — indicating that criminal behavior is very profitable.  The corrupt activity of Purdue Pharma and the Sacklers has evolved into an unprecedented epidemic of heroin consuming this country.  Where has the U.S. Senate been while this destruction of life has been out of control killing our kids?
I began writing for newspapers and exposing activities that were less than honest including in the U.S. Senate — as our kids continue to die.  So for your consideration and because of my sheer frustration, I offer the following questions and observations:
Where was the U.S. Senate, non-profit foundations and organizations when I wrote about the FDA approving OxyContin for children — based on Purdue Pharma’s own studies and with no review by the FDA’s Advisory Committee.  You might want to ask why the FDA disbanded their Advisory Committee prior to OxyContin being prescribed for children.  Here is a link to my article about the outrage of a drug devastating our country being approved for children as young as 11 years old.  There was no outrage.  Our kids are dying!
How many governor task forces, county and state task forces and town hall meetings in every state are needed to evaluate the prescription opioid/heroin epidemic?  Our kids are dying!
Every time the word “stigma” is used in describing addiction, the pharmaceutical industry and their heavily funded pain foundation lobbying groups uses the word “stigma” to describe the chronic pain patient being denied long term addictive opioid treatment.  Our kids are dying!
Every time the word “abuse” is used rather than “addiction”, pharma and their pain foundation scores a victory.  They love the word “abuse” because they turn it into the word “junkie”.  Our kids are dying!
Every time harm reduction is promoted as an answer to this crisis — instead of the words “harm elimination”, our kids are dying!
Every time Partnership for a Drug Free Kids holds a “celebration gala” at an expensive venue in NYC and employs parent coaches enjoying the perks of the best hotels and finest restaurants, I question what are they doing with $95 million?  It is certainly not being used in treating the disease of addiction with in-patient beds — or in having people man their telephones instead of automated answering machines.  Our kids are dying! 
Every time a new organization or foundation is started as a non-profit promoting “awareness” to the prescription opioid/heroin epidemic, our kids are dying!  Every family in this country and every high school student in this country knows someone who has either died or is addicted to prescription drugs/heroin.  There is your awareness.
Why is a night designated for families to sit around the dinner table together and discuss prescription opioids/heroin?  Families and their children are living it every day.  Our kids are dying!
Naloxone or Narcan is a remedy to an overdose — it is not a cure and not a treatment to recovery.  It is a life-saving tool, but the focus has to be on “treatment”.  Our kids are dying!
Some foundations downplay the benefits of a 12 step program and a faith based program.  Parents blame themselves for not loving their children enough and are made to feel guilty that they didn’t “open the dialogue” as to what the addict wants.  The addict wants drugs and needs treatment — the best treatment our country can provide in this epidemic.  Our kids are dying!
If cancer is treated aggressively with success in many cases, why isn’t the disease of addiction treated aggressively?  Our kids are dying!
There are on-line classes for people to take classifying them as “recovery specialists.”  Cancer is not treated as a disease with “recovery specialists” taking on-line courses.  Our kids are dying!
The talk is not working.  The workshops are not working.  The government task forces are not working.  Education is not working.  If it were, the numbers would be declining not going through the roof.  Our kids are dying!
Next week, I will be writing about an organization called “Wicked Sober”.  Their website is and is also on Facebook.  Wicked Sober is involved in opening an in-patient facility to treat the disease of addiction and is slated to open in April.  Be assured, I will learn everything I can about “Healing Hills” in Massachusetts because it is about “treatment” not awareness. 
Enough talk — time has run out.  Our kids are dying!


skolek-new-photo-700Global News Centre’s Marianne Skolek, is an Investigative Reporter who focuses on the Prescription Opioid/Heroin Epidemic in the U.S. and Canada. In particular, Marianne has covered the criminal marketing of OxyContin going back to 1999 and continuing to the present.

In 2002, Marianne lost her daughter, Jill to prescribed OxyContin which her physician referred to as “mobility in a bottle.” It was, in fact, death in a bottle. After doing extensive research on the maker of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma, Marianne began working with the Department of Justice in Virginia in their criminal investigation into Purdue Pharma and in July 2007 was asked by the U.S. Attorney John Brownlee prosecuting the case to testify against the three CEO’s of Purdue Pharma, Michael Friedman, Paul Goldenheim, MD and Howard Udell, Chief Counsel. The CEO’s pleaded guilty to misleading the medical profession about the dangers of OxyContin. Marianne also testified against Purdue Pharma at a Judiciary Hearing of the U.S. Senate in July 2007.

In addition, a dangerous and highly addictive opioid named Zohydro has been approved by the FDA against their Advisory Committee’s advice and Marianne continues to alert Attorneys General, Senators and Congressmen as to the FDA’s irresponsibility in the out of control prescription opioid/heroin epidemic killing and addicting in the tens of thousands each year. Zohydro has been referred to as “heroin in a capsule” and its lowest dosage (10mg) contains twice as much hydrocodone as found in a Vicodin pill. The highest single dose of Zohydro contains as much hydrocodone as 5 to 10 tablets of Vicodin or Lortab. Zohydro mixed with alcohol can be fatal and has no abuse deterrent built in which will make it easy to crush and deliver a fatal dose of the opioid.

Currently Marianne has been instrumental in calling for the termination of Margaret Hamburg, MD, Commissioner of the FDA as well as Bob A. Rappaport, MD and Douglas Throckmorton, MD for their lack of commitment to safeguarding the American public against the prescription opioid/heroin epidemic. Marianne’s research, writing and contact with government agencies and attorneys has also exposed the heavily funded pain foundations set up by the pharmaceutical industry and their paid physician spokespersons who convinced the medical boards in 50 states and Canada that dangerous opioids such as OxyContin were less likely to be addictive. These physicians — in particular Scott Fishman, MD, J. David Haddox, DDS, MD, Perry Fine, MD, Lynn R. Webster, MD, Russell Portenoy, MD also downplayed the risks of addictive opioids in books as authors. These books are still available for sale and promoted to the medical profession.

Here are links to Marianne’s involvement in exposing the national conspiracy of the prescription opioid/heroin epidemic, the FDA, the pharmaceutical industry, their pain foundations and paid physician spokespersons.

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