• An estimated half-million people died from opioid overdoses since 1999 and 1.27 million Americans are being treated for addiction
  • Purdue Pharma admits it knew some of its customers were diverting OxyContin for street sales
  • Purdie Pharma is facing $8.3 billion in fines

Purdue Pharma, which raked in more than $35 billion on OxyContin sales, agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges Wednesday to defrauding federal health agencies and violating anti-kickback laws.

The company faces $8.3 billion in fines.

“Today’s announcement involves one of the most important participants in the supply chain of prescription opioids, at the manufacturer level. And a resolution which, if approved by the court, will redress past wrongs, and will also provide extraordinary new resources for treatment and care of those affected by opioids addiction,” Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen said in announcing the agreement.

Purdue Pharma and other opioid makers are blamed for the explosion in addiction and overdose deaths across the country. The Department of Health and Human Services says 1.27 million Americans currently are being treated for opioid addiction – both for illegal and prescription drugs. Some 47,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2018, an estimated half-million since 1999.

Purdue Pharma Chairman Steve Miller said the agreement will enable the company to move forward with the bankruptcy process.

“Purdue deeply regrets and accepts responsibility for the misconduct detailed by the Department of Justice in the agreed statement of facts,” Miller said, adding the company today is very different than the one that committed the violations.

As part of the deal, the company will admit it conspired to defraud the federal government, admitting it knew some of its customers were diverting OxyContin to the black market. It also will admit it paid kickbacks to doctors to write prescriptions.

The agreement requires Purdue Pharma to dissolve and the Sackler family to relinquish ownership and control. Assets were to be transferred to a public benefit company owned by a trust that will benefit the public by providing treatment for opioid addiction.

“The abuse and diversion of prescription opioids has contributed to a national tragedy of addiction and deaths, in addition to those caused by illicit street opioids,” Rosen said.

Gary L. Cantrell, deputy inspector general for investigations at HHS, said the opioid epidemic remains a significant public health challenge that impacts the lives of men and women across the country. Unfortunately, Purdue’s reckless actions and violation of the law senselessly risked patients’ health and well-being.”

Members of the Sackler family and former company executives still could face criminal prosecutions.