Purdue Pharma to Plead Guilty to Multiple Federal Charges (Updated)
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Last updated on 10/22/20 at 9:00 a.m.
According to AP, OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma intends to plead guilty to three federal charges levied by the Department of Justice. The charges include conspiracy to defraud the United States — for misleading the Drug Enforcement Administration — and violation of federal anti-kickback laws vis a vis illegal incentivization programs with doctors.
Purdue, which is owned by the controversial billionaire Sackler family, will immediately remit a $225 million fine to the government, AP reports. But that's a small piece of billions in total criminal- and civil-liability damages Purdue may still be on the hook for, pending the outcome of a hotly contested bankruptcy hearing.
The pharmaceutical powerhouse, which has innovated numerous prescription painkillers, has become emblematic of the opiod crisis that's enveloped American lives over the past decade-plus. Opiod-induced overdose deaths more than doubled between 2010-2017, per the National Institute on Drug Abuse. As of 2013, the Sackler family's worth was estimated at more than $13 billion.
Update: Since publication of this story, a representative for the Sackler family shared the following statement with Entrepreneur:
"Members of the Sackler family who served on Purdue's board of directors acted ethically and lawfully, and the upcoming release of company documents will prove that fact in detail. This history of Purdue will also demonstrate that all financial distributions were proper.
As members of the board, we adopted rigorous policies requiring Purdue to be in full compliance with the law. The board relied on repeated and consistent assurances from Purdue's management team that the company was meeting all legal requirements, as shown in hundreds of pages of compliance reports that will become part of the public record.
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. This proposed resolution includes relinquishing our ownership of Purdue and has been valued at $10-$12 billion — more than double all Purdue profits the Sackler family retained since the introduction of OxyContin. States and cities representing more than half the U.S. population support this impactful plan. 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.
Regarding the plea agreement between the government and Purdue, no member of the Sackler family was involved in that conduct or served in a management role at Purdue during that time period."