OxyContin and a Regulation Deficiency of the Pharmaceutical Industry: Rethinking State-Corporate Crime.

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On May 10, 2007, three executives of the pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma pled guilty in federal court to misleading doctors and patients about the risk of addiction and potential for abuse of OxyContin. Additionally, Purdue Pharma paid over $600 million in fines and other payments to the United States government and the Commonwealth of Virginia. The drug OxyContin was first introduced to the market in December of 1995. Warning signs of the drug’s potential for abuse were almost immediate, and there were reports of copious amounts of the drug being diverted into the black market for recreational use. In some cases, criminologists have argued that if the government fails to protect its citizens from the harm of a corporation then such behavior should be considered state-corporate crime. We critically evaluate the case of OxyContin to see if it falls under the state-corporate crime paradigm. Further, we argue the state-corporate crime paradigm can benefit from an increased focus on the organizational structures of regulation agencies.