Big Pharma Pleads Guilty: DOJ Announces Guilty Pleas, $8 Billion In Fines For Oxy Maker

Written By BlabberBuzz | Wednesday, 21 October 2020 13:47

Purdue Pharma, the company that makes OxyContin, the strong prescription painkiller that experts say helped spread an opioid scourge, will plead guilty to three federal criminal charges as part of an arrangement of more than $8 billion, Justice Department officials announced Wednesday.

The company will plead guilty to three counts, including conspiracy to deceive the United States and violating federal anti-kickback laws, the officials said. The resolution will be listed in a bankruptcy court filing in federal court.

The deal does not issue any of the company’s executives or owners, members of the wealthy Sackler family, from criminal liability, and a criminal probe is ongoing. One state attorney general said the agreement fails to hold the Sacklers responsible, while family members said they had acted “ethically and lawfully.”

The settlement is the highest-profile display yet of the federal government seeking to hold a significant pharmaceutical accountable for an opioid addiction and overdose crisis linked to more than 470,000 deaths in the country since 2000.

“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 director 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.

Family members, in a statement, expressed “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.”

The deal comes not more than two weeks before a presidential election where the opioid epidemic has taken a political back seat to the coronavirus pandemic and other issues. It does give President Donald Trump’s administration an example of progress on the addiction crisis, which he vowed early in his term.

But to Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, the Justice Department “failed” and she said in a statement that she was not done with either Purdue or the Sacklers. “Justice in this case requires exposing the truth and holding the perpetrators accountable, not rushing a settlement to beat an election,” she said.

Ed Bisch, who lost his 18-year-old son to an OxyContin overdose nearly 20 years ago, said he wants to see people linked with Purdue indicted.

“The fact that they day this doesn’t grant anyone immunity, I’m heartened by that,” he said after the deal was announced.

As part of the resolution, Purdue is indicating that it hindered the Drug Enforcement Administration by falsely expressing that it had had an effective program to avoid drug diversion and by reporting misleading information to the agency to boost the company’s manufacturing quotas, the officials said.

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