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Purdue Pharma Admits To Crimes, Facing Billions In Fines For Opioid Crisis

Purdue Pharma is facing billions of dollars in fines for its role in the opioid crisis.
Purdue Pharma is facing billions of dollars in fines for its role in the opioid crisis. Photo Credit: Google Maps

Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, has agreed to pay billions of dollars in fines and will plead guilty to federal criminal charges for its role in the nation’s opioid crisis.

The Fairfield County-based Connecticut company agreed to plead guilty in federal court in New Jersey to a three-count indictment that includes one count of dual-object conspiracy to defraud the United States and to violate the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and two counts of conspiracy to violate the Federal Anti-Kickback Statute.

As part of the agreement, Purdue Pharma, whose headquarters is in Stamford, will pay a $3.5 billion fine, and an additional $2 billion in past profits. 

The company also agreed to pay $2.8 billion in civil liability. The Sackler family also agreed to pay $225 million in damages to resolve its civil False Claims Act liability.

The restitution is the largest penalty ever levied against a pharmaceutical manufacturer, according to the Department of Justice. As part of the settlement, the company will also be shutting down permanently, with its remaining assets being used to create a new government-controlled company.

According to the Department of Justice, the newly formed company will “deliver legitimate prescription drugs in a manner as safe as possible, but it will aim to donate, or provide steep discounts for, life-saving overdose rescue drugs and medically assisted treatment medications to communities, and the proceeds of the trust will be directed toward State and local opioid abatement programs.”

Prosecutors said that Purdue Pharma marketed and sold addictive opioids such as OxyContin to healthcare providers who then prescribed them drug abusers.

“The abuse and diversion of prescription opioids has contributed to a national tragedy of addiction and deaths, in addition to those caused by illicit street opioids,” Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said. 

The company also reported misleading information to the Drug Enforcement Administration to bolster its manufacturing quotas and pushed doctors to prescribe more of its drugs through a series of kickback schemes.

“We reached today’s agreement in order to facilitate a global resolution that directs substantial funding to communities in need, rather than to years of legal proceedings,” the Sackler family said in a statement.

“We have deep compassion for people who suffer from opioid addiction and abuse and hope the proposal will be implemented as swiftly as possible to help address their critical needs.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James was critical of the settlement, saying that it “doesn’t account for the hundreds of thousands of deaths or millions of addictions caused, instead, it allows billionaires to keep their billions without any accounting for how much they really made.”

“While our country continues to recover from the pain and destruction left by the Sacklers’ greed, this family has attempted to evade responsibility and lowball the millions of victims of the opioid crisis,” she said in a statement. “From the beginning, we’ve aimed to unearth how much the Sacklers actually profited and how much they continue to hide away.” 

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