The opioid crisis in the U.S. has been linked to more than 470,000 deaths in the past 20 years, and the federal government is going after the companies it feels has led to this national tragedy.
The Associated Press is reporting that on Wednesday, Purdue Pharma, the company that makes the prescription painkiller OxyContin and that experts say is a major part of the opioid epidemic, will plead guilty to three federal criminal charges, including conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and violating anti-kickback laws, as part of a more than $8 billion settlement.
Pharma’s deal with the government does not release any of the company’s owners or executives from criminal liability, and currently a criminal investigation is going on, as well.
AP reports that as part of the resolution, Purdue will admit it impeded the DEA by falsely representing it had maintained an effective program to avoid drug diversion. The company will also admit reporting misleading information to the agency in order to boost manufacturing quotas. In addition, Purdue will admit it violated federal anti-kickback laws by paying doctors through a speaker program. The goal was to entice doctors to write more OxyContin prescriptions.
Purdue will pay the government a lump sum of $225 million, which is just part of a much larger $2 billion criminal forfeiture. The company also faces criminal fines up to $3.54 billion, and will agree to $2.8 billion in damages to resolve its civil liability. Purdue will be required to cooperate with the ongoing federal investigation.
There are critics to this settlement, as many state attorney generals and Democratic members of Congress feel it does not hold the company properly accountable and have asked Attorney General William Barr to not make the bargain with Purdue Pharma or its owners.