PURDUE PHARMA ADMITS AND PLEADS GUILTY FOR ABUSE OF OPIOID AND ITS ADDICTION IN UNITED STATES

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The US Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday announced a global resolution of both criminal and civil investigations into opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma, and civil investigations into the Sackler family.

In the press release, the DOJ announced that “Purdue Pharma has agreed to plead guilty in federal court in New Jersey to a three-count felony information charging it with one count of dual-object conspiracy to defraud the United States and to violate the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and two counts of conspiracy to violate the Federal Anti-Kickback Statute.” The plea includes a criminal fine of $3.544 billion and $2 billion in criminal forfeiture. Purdue also agreed to a civil settlement totaling $2.8 billion to resolve civil liability under the False Claims Act. Individual shareholders, members of the Sackler family, agreed to pay $225 million to avoid civil liability under the False Claims Act.

As part of the criminal plea, Purdue Pharma will admit that from May 2007 through at least March 2017, Purdue conspired to defraud the United States by impeding the lawful function of the DEA by representing to the DEA that Purdue maintained an effective anti-diversion program when, in fact, Purdue continued to market its opioid products to more than 100 health care providers whom the company had good reason to believe were diverting opioids and by reporting misleading information to the DEA to boost Purdue’s manufacturing quotas. The misleading information comprised prescription data that included prescriptions written by doctors that Purdue had good reason to believe were engaged in diversion. The conspiracy also involved aiding and abetting violations of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by facilitating the dispensing of its opioid products, including OxyContin, without a legitimate medical purpose, and thus without lawful prescriptions.

“Under a separate civil settlement, individual members of the Sackler family will pay the United States $225 million arising from the alleged conduct of Dr. Richard Sackler, David Sackler, Mortimer D.A. Sackler, Dr. Kathe Sackler, and Jonathan Sackler (the Named Sacklers).  This settlement resolves allegations that, in 2012, the Named Sacklers knew that the legitimate market for Purdue’s opioids had contracted.”

“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,” said Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen. “With criminal guilty pleas, a federal settlement of more than $8 billion, and the dissolution of a company and repurposing its assets entirely for the public’s benefit, the resolution in today’s announcement re-affirms that the Department of Justice will not relent in its multi-pronged efforts to combat the opioids crisis.”

While the global resolution with the company needs to be approved by the court, “one important condition in the resolution is that the company would cease to operate in its current form and would instead emerge from bankruptcy as a public benefit company (PBC) owned by a trust or similar entity designed for the benefit of the American public, to function entirely in the public interest.” The PBC will aim to “deliver legitimate prescription drugs in a manner as safe as possible, but it will aim to donate, or provide steep discounts for, life-saving overdose rescue drugs and medically assisted treatment medications to communities, and the proceeds of the trust will be directed toward State and local opioid abatement programs.”