Purdue Pharma to Plead Guilty to Criminal Charges in Settlement
An agreement has been reached between the Department of Justice and Purdue Pharma after a multi-year investigation into criminal and civil charges alleged against the company.
Purdue has agreed to plead guilty to three charges and pay fines totaling $8 billion.
As part of the settlement, Purdue will only have to pay $225 million while the rest of the $8 billion will be waived if the company agrees to reorganize after filing for bankruptcy and change the rest of their assets to a “public benefit company.”
In a statement posted on Purdue’s official website, the company’s chairman, Steve Miller, said: “Purdue deeply regrets and accepts responsibility for the misconduct detailed by the Department of Justice in the agreed statement of facts.”
This settlement, however, has proven to be controversial as many people, including Massachusetts Attorney General, Maura Healey who tweeted her dislike of the judgment.
Many people feel that the company’s founders, the Sackler family, got off with no more than a warning as they escaped criminal charges in the settlement.
The Sackler family became the owners of Purdue Pharma in 1952 when it was mostly known for sleep aids and laxatives. In 1991, the company shifted and began creating medications in the pain management field. Purdue released Oxycontin in 1996 and the drug “earned Purdue about $2.8 billion in revenue from the start of 1996 through June 2001”.
One of the guilty pleas involves the aggressive marketing of the drug, including creating a doctor speaker program that would reward doctors in exchange for referring, recommending, and prescribing the company’s opiates.
The company is also pleading guilty to “market(ing) its opioid products to more than 100 health care providers whom the company had good reason to believe were diverting opioids” and reporting misleading information to the DEA that would boost the company’s manufacturing quotas.
The CDC found that almost “450,000 people died from overdoses involving any opioid, including prescription and illicit opioids, from 1999-2018.”