OxyContin drug maker pleads guilty to federal criminal charges

"Today’s guilty plea comes too late for the millions of lives that Purdue’s crimes destroyed over the past decade.”

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Purdue Pharma agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges reaching an $8.3 billion settlement with the United States Department of Justice. In an effort to resolve a probe claiming the company helped fuel America’s opioid crisis, the maker of OxyContin painkillers admitted to supplying drugs “without legitimate medical purpose.”

The deal will resolve three federal criminal charges brought on by the Department of Justice, but Purdue Pharma still faces thousands of cases brought against them by many states and families.

“For there to be accountability for the corporate-fueled opioid addiction epidemic, which has cruelly taken hundreds of thousands of lives, there must be prosecution of those members of the Sackler family who, along with other executives and owners, were responsible for Purdue Pharma’s deadly deception, as well as a stripping away of their ill-gotten gains from an evil scheme to push addictive drugs for profit,” Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, said.

Purdue Pharma, who filed for bankruptcy in 2018 as protection against such litigation, said the deal was “essential” to resolve the claims against the company.

“Purdue deeply regrets and accepts responsibility for the misconduct detailed by the Department of Justice,” Steve Miller, chairman of Purdue’s board, said.

Many state attorneys general and consumer advocacy groups said the federal charges against Purdue Pharma and its owners, the Sackler family, aren’t strong enough “for the corporate-fueled opioid addiction epidemic” the company caused leading to the deaths of more than 400,000 Americans since 1999, according to the BBC

“Purdue Pharma is a bankrupt company that will operate in the future as a social benefit corporation, or possibly not at all,” Weissman said. “Criminal charges for its wrongdoing are decades late and almost beside the point.”

The settlement between Purdue Pharma and the Department of Justice will need court approval in order to move forward.

“Today’s guilty plea comes too late for the millions of lives that Purdue’s crimes destroyed over the past decade,” Weissman said.

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