Purdue Pharma, the manufacturers of prescription narcotic pain reliever Oxycontin has agreed to a settlement of charges with the Federal government for a reported $8 billion.
The money will be divided into a $3.5 billion fine, forfeiture of $2 billion in past profits. This is in addition to $2.8 billion which Purdue Pharma had already agreed to pay in civil liabilities.
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The company, which is owned by the famed Sackler family agreed to plead guilty to three separate charges. But it does not have the $8 billion in cash on hand and so it will need to dissolve as a corporation.
Purdue will continue to exist, however, but in a different form. The new company will continue to produce pain killers, but also drugs to treat addiction as well as overdoses.
The news comes one year after the company entered bankruptcy to protect it from numerous civil suits.
Oxycontin has become synonymous with America’s opioid epidemic. For decades doctors have prescribed opiate pain killers to patients suffering from all manner of pain. A entire industry of pain management cropped up.
Whether for back pain, or for continued pain after some sort of surgery, Americans by the millions were prescribed these addictive pain killers. Many of those people then became addicts.
The television show “House” featured a doctor who himself was addicted to pain killers.
Purdue Pharma had been charged with paying doctors kickbacks to get the to prescribe more of its pain killers. This was done in spite of knowledge about how addictive they were.
Not everyone is happy with the deal, including some of the states’ attorney generals. “The federal government had the power here to put the Sacklers in jail, and they didn’t,” Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said in a statement. “Instead, they took fines and penalties that Purdue likely will never fully pay.”
“Purdue Pharma actively thwarted the United States’ efforts to ensure compliance and prevent diversion,” said Drug Enforcement Administration Assistant Administrator Tim McDermott. “The devastating ripple effect of Purdue’s actions left lives lost and others addicted.”
“Purdue deeply regrets and accepts responsibility for the misconduct detailed by the Department of Justice in the agreed statement of facts,” Steve Miller, who became chairman of the company’s board in 2018, said in a statement. No members of the Sackler family remain on that board, though they still own the company.