Purdue Pharma to dissolve, pay $8.3B for role in opioid epidemic

Purdue Pharma on Oct. 21 agreed to shut down its company, pay roughly $8.3 billion and plead guilty to three federal criminal charges for its role in creating and exacerbating the nation's opioid epidemic.

The drugmaker filed for bankruptcy in September 2019 to resolve thousands of lawsuits accusing it of fueling the opioid epidemic, primarily by flooding communities with its highly addictive narcotic OxyContin and downplaying the painkiller's potential for misuse.

According to the Department of Justice, the company agreed to plead guilty to three criminal counts, including federal anti-kickback law violation and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Purdue Pharma also agreed to dissolve as part of its criminal charges. 

According to the justice department, a condition of the resolution is that the company would emerge from bankruptcy as a public benefit company, owned by a trust or similar entity, and would operate entirely to benefit the American public.  The new company will produce legitimate prescription drugs as well as drugs that treat opioid overdose. Profits will now go to efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, according to the justice department. 

Purdue Pharma agreed to pay a $3.5 billion fine and $2.8 billion in civil liability. It also agreed to forfeit $2 billion more in past profits.

"This resolution closes a particularly sad chapter in the ongoing battle against opioid addiction,” Drug Enforcement Administration Assistant Administrator Tim McDermott said in a statement.  "Purdue Pharma actively thwarted the United States' efforts to ensure compliance and prevent diversion. The devastating ripple effect of Purdue’s actions left lives lost and others addicted."

"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," a representative for the Sackler family, who owns Purdue Pharma, said in an Oct. 21 email to Becker's. "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."

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