Judge Dismisses Suit Against OxyContin Maker

August 20, 2004

A federal judge in Roanoke, Va. has dismissed a lawsuit against Connecticut-based OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma by three men who claimed they became addicted to the painkiller while using it to treat their various medical problems.

Chief U.S. District Judge James P. Jones pointed out that A.F. McCauley, 70, Charles C. Brummett, 51, and Joseph D. Deckard, 42, abused a number of different drugs and failed to show that OxyContin was the source of their misery.

“They are essentially attempting in this case to recover from Purdue damages for injuries that have not been established to be directly attributable to Purdue,” Jones wrote.

Abingdon attorney Emmitt Yeary, who filed the multibillion dollar lawsuit in Big Stone Gap, said a jury would have recognized the effect OxyContin had on their lives.

“They were always able to cope with those other pain medications,” Yeary said in a telephone interview. “Only when OxyContin came into their lives, they weren’t able to handle it. When you have something so addictive, you can reasonably expect there was some sort of abuse.”

McCauley, a coal miner from Lee County, started receiving pain medication in the 1980s after injuring his back. According to court documents, he started taking OxyContin in 2000 and mixed the drug with the other pain medications.

McCauley eventually started purchasing OxyContin on the street, taking it twice a day until it became ‘”really, really hard and expensive to get.” He became addicted and entered detoxification programs several times, according to court documents.

Brummett, also from Lee County, and Deckard, of Scott County, received numerous drugs for back injuries and took OxyContin more frequently than prescribed, according to court documents.

OxyContin is a potent narcotic designed to provide 12 hours of pain relief for people suffering from long-term pain.

In his ruling, Jones said the case does not settle the many questions about how pain should be treated.

“As a trial judge hearing criminal cases, I am unfortunately all too familiar with the human misery caused by the abuse of prescription drugs, particularly including OxyContin,” Jones wrote.

“Lives wasted, families disrupted, communities devastated, because of misuse of these drugs. Did Purdue oversell OxyContin, for its own profit? Does the relief afforded by high-dosage opioids to those with severe, life-altering pain outweigh the risks of harm from addiction? These cases do not answer those questions.”

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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