Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, pled guilty in November of 2020 to federal criminal charges related to the company’s role in the opioid crisis. The company has also agreed to pay an $8 billion settlement. Unfortunately, the guilty pleas will not result in any prison time for company officials or the Sackler family. However, the Justice Department has indicated that further criminal charges are not precluded by the plea.
The controversial settlement would restructure Purdue Pharma. The company would move forward as a public trust under government control. It will continue to manufacture opioids. The monetary settlement will help communities increase their resources for those individuals addicted to opioids.
The charges against Purdue Pharma allege that the company aggressively marketed OxyContin, a highly addictive opioid. As a result, many individuals were prescribed the drug who did not require it. The opioids were also being prescribed in larger doses than necessary and for a longer time than required. The specific charges against the company involve defrauding federal health agencies and paying illegal kickbacks to doctors.
The abusive prescription of opioids has led to a national addiction crisis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the overprescribing of opioids, along with illegal distribution, has led to the death of more than 450,000 Americans since 1999. The company admitted to marketing the drug to hundreds of doctors who were illegally prescribing OxyContin to their patients. They paid doctors kickbacks in exchange for prescriptions. The company also paid kickbacks to an electronic health records company, Practice Fusion, which set up alerts on their system that would encourage doctors to prescribe more opioids.
Due to the company’s bankruptcy filing, it is unlikely that the government will be able to collect the full settlement amount. Purdue’s other creditors will be paid first, and it is likely that they will receive pennies on the dollar. Local governments find the settlement controversial and believe that it does not go far enough. They believe that the Sackler family and executives of Purdue should also face criminal consequences. The Sackler family has agreed to pay $225 million in a civil settlement. They have profited greatly from the overprescribing of OxyContin, and it is believed that they have moved much of their money offshore. The settlement does not end all litigation that Purdue Pharma may face and does not end the continuing investigations and lawsuits aimed at other drugmakers.
Contact a Mass Torts Attorney
If you are a loved one has been adversely affected by the overprescription of OxyContin, you may want an experienced and compassionate attorney on your side. Gregg Goldfarb has been helping the victims of dangerous drugs for over 25 years and is here to help you. Contact us online or call us at 305-374-7000 to schedule a free consultation.