New York Times- December 28, 2007 The Long Run Under Attack, Drug Maker Turned to Giuliani for Help By BARRY MEIER and ERIC LIPTON In western Virginia, far from the limelight, United States Attorney John L. Brownlee found himself on the telephone last year with a political and legal superstar, Rudolph W. Giuliani. For years, Mr. Brownlee and his small team had been building a case that the maker of the painkiller OxyContin had misled the public when it claimed the drug was less prone to abuse than competing narcotics. The drug was believed to be a factor in hundreds of deaths involving its abuse. Mr. Giuliani, celebrated for his stewardship of New York City after 9/11, soon told the prosecutors they were wrong. In 2002, the drug maker, Purdue Pharma of Stamford, Conn., hired Mr. Giuliani and his consulting firm, Giuliani Partners, to help stem the controversy about OxyContin. Among Mr. Giulianiâs missions was the job of convincing public officials that they could trust Purdue because they could trust him. So it was no small success when, after the call, Mr. Brownlee did what many people might have done when confronted with such celebrity: He went out and bought a copy of Mr. Giulianiâs book, âLeadership.â âI wanted to be prepared for my meetings with him,â Mr. Brownlee said in a recent interview. Over the past few weeks, Mr. Giulianiâs consulting business has received increasing scrutiny, at times forcing him to defend his business as he campaigns for the Republican presidential nomination. But his work for Purdue, the companyâs first and longest-running client, provides a window into how he used his standing as an eminent lawyer, a Republican insider and a national celebrity to aid a controversial client and build a business fortune. A former top federal prosecutor, Mr. Giuliani participated in two meetings between Purdue officials and the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the agency investigating the company. Giuliani Partners took on the job of monitoring security improvements at company facilities making OxyContin, an issue of concern to the D.E.A. As a celebrity, Mr. Giuliani helped the company win several public relations battles, playing a role in an effort by Purdue to persuade an influential Pennsylvania congressman, Curt Weldon, not to blame it for OxyContin abuse. Despite these efforts, Purdue suffered a crushing defeat in May at the hands of Mr. Brownlee when the company and three top executives pleaded guilty to criminal charges. Mr. Giuliani, who declined to discuss his work for Purdue for this article, has refused to talk in detail about his firmâs clients. He has said that he is no longer involved in the day-to-day management of the firm, which still represents Purdue. Giuliani Partners would not say how much Purdue had paid it, but one consultant to the drug maker estimated that Mr. Giulianiâs firm had, in some years, earned several million dollars from the account. âEverything I did with Giuliani Partners has been totally legal, totally ethical,â Mr. Giuliani recently told The Associated Press. âThereâs nothing for me to explain about it. Weâve acted honorably, decently.â In the OxyContin case, Mr. Giulianiâs supporters suggest that as a cancer survivor himself, he was driven by a noble goal: to keep the companyâs proven pain reliever available to the widest circle of sufferers. âI understand the pain and distress that accompanies illness,â Mr. Giuliani said at the time. âI know that proper medications are necessary for people to treat their sickness and improve their quality of life.â To drive OxyContinâs sales, Purdue, beginning in 1996, set in motion what D.E.A. officials described as perhaps the most aggressive promotional campaign for a high-powered narcotic ever undertaken. It promoted the drug not only to pain specialists, but to family doctors with little experience in treating serious pain or recognizing drug abuse. As a result of the expanded access, critics charged, OxyContin wound up in the high schools and street corners of rural America where curious teenagers crushed the pill, defeating the time-release formula, and ended up addicts, or in some cases, dead. Dennis Lee, the Virginia state prosecutor for Tazewell County, an area hard hit by OxyContin abuse, said he was stunned several years ago to learn that Mr. Giuliani was working for Purdue. He had a favorable impression of Mr. Giuliani, he said, and a poor opinion of the company, which he said had played down and dissembled about its drugâs problem. âI was shocked,â Mr. Lee said, âthat he would basically become a mouthpiece for Purdue.â Denials and Lobbying Giuliani Partners served clients with a range of needs. The firm helped large accounting firms fight computer hackers and promoted Nextelâs efforts to expand its access to public airwaves. But some of the 55-person firmâs clients, like Purdue Pharma, were facing more difficult legal and public relations problems. There were, for instance, the backers of a planned natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound who were facing stiff environmental opposition. Another client was a former cocaine smuggler hoping to win federal contracts for a computer system to track down terrorists. On the business of these clients andothers, Giuliani Partners carved out a lucrative niche in corporate consulting, crisis management and security. In the process, Mr. Giuliani, a Brooklyn native whose legal career had largely been spent in government, became a corporate trouble-shooter with homes in the Hamptons and on the Upper East Side. According to financial disclosure forms filed in May, his net worth was more than $30 million. The crisis that brought Purdue to Mr. Giuliani in 2002 involved OxyContin, a time-released form of the narcotic oxycodone, which had turned into a blockbuster product with annual sales of more than $1 billion. But along the way, the pain medication had also become a popular drug for abuse. Among the companyâs critics were officials at the Drug Enforcement Administration who said OxyContin had been a factor in hundreds of overdose deaths. Some D.E.A. officials and others also charged that Purdue had hyped the drugâs resistance to abuse and then failed to act swiftly when its misuse became apparent. Purdue Pharma, which is owned by the Sacklers, a New York-area family who are known as museum benefactors, denied it had done anything wrong. But facing a growing number of investigations and lawsuits, it spent millions on public relations experts, lobbyists and top-tier law firms. One piece, however, was missing: a highly credible and well-connected political figure to serve as its point man. Purdue Pharma executives saw Mr. Giuliani as that person, said a former company spokesman.