OxyContin Maker Pleads Guilty to Criminal Charges in $8 Billion Settlement
Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, will plead guilty to three federal criminal charges for its role in the nation's opioid epidemic as part of an $8 billion settlement, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.
The company admitted to three felony counts, including two for violating federal anti-kickback laws, and conspiracy to defraud the United States government, officials told the Associated Press.
The Sackler family, the company's owners, agreed to pay $225 million in a related settlement to resolve civil penalties, however, the agreement does not release them from facing any future criminal liability.
While the company admitted criminal liability, executives did not admit to any criminal wrongdoing.
While Wednesday's announcement will not be the end of legal action against Purdue, the settlement is the biggest display yet by the federal government to hold a drugmaker accountable for the opioid crisis, the AP reports.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the opioid epidemic resulted in the deaths of more than 450,000 Americans since 1999.
The New York Times reports that it is unlikely that Purdue will end up paying the full $8 billion in the settlement as it has to go through bankruptcy court which includes a long line of creditors.
Still, Purdue has agreed to $3.54 billion in criminal fines, $2 billion in criminal forfeiture and 2.8 billion in civil penalties.
If the company agrees to reorganize itself as a public benefit company, however, the Justice Department will not ask for more than $225 million, according to NBC News.
The Sackler family would not be involved in this new company and all fines against them are separate.
Under the agreement, part of the money from the settlement would go to funding drug programs and medically assisted treatments to battle the opioid epidemic, officials told the AP.
In announcing the settlement, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen explained that the agreement involves "one of the most important participants in the supply chain of prescription opioids, at the manufacturer level," according to NBC.
He added, if approved by bankruptcy court, the agreement will "redress past wrongs, and will also provide extraordinary new resources for treatment and care of those affected by opioids addiction."
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