Purdue, the company responsible for manufacturing OxyContin, will plead guilty to violating federal anti-kickback laws and helping to create the opioid crisis that is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans. They are being ordered to pay $8 billion in damages and the company is being shut down.
The privately held company has agreed to pay a $3.5 billion fine as well as forfeit an additional $2 billion in past profits, in addition to the $2.8 billion it agreed to pay in civil liability. The money will be used to fund opioid treatment and abatement programs. In addition, the company has been ordered to dissolve and its remaining assets will be used to create a new government run company that will continue to manufacture OxyContin as well as drugs used to help people combat opioid addiction, with profits from the company going to further help combat the epidemic.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 450,000 people in the United States have died from overdoses involving any opioid, including prescription and illicit opioids. About a third of those deaths in 2018 involved prescription opioids. Purdue was charged with paying doctors to prescribe OxyContin in increasing numbers, fueling the epidemic. In addition to the loss of human life, the economic costs to individual states has been astounding. Opioid manufacturers have cost the American economy $2.15 trillion, according to a notice of claim filed in bankruptcy court by nearly every US state and many territories. Because of this, while the $8 billion settlement seems massive, it's only a small part of the overall cost of the opioid pandemic.
"Purdue deeply regrets and accepts responsibility for the misconduct detailed by the Department of Justice," said Purdue Chairman Steve Miller, who joined Purdue's board in July 2018. "Purdue today is a very different company. We have made significant changes to our leadership, operations, governance, and oversight."
The Justice Department also reached a separate $225 million civil settlement with the former owners of Purdue Pharma, the infamous Sackler family. Under the leadership of Richard Sackler, the family achieved notoriety by earning billions of dollars on the opioid epidemic. Further criminal cases are pending against the family.