Purdue Pharma, which produces on OxyContin, on Tuesday admitted its role in the growth of the United States' opioid epidemic, pleading guilty to a set of criminal charges as part of a settlement with the federal government, The Associated Press reports.
The guilty plea included admissions that the pharmaceutical giant impeded the Drug Enforcement Administration's efforts to combat the opioid crisis. The company admitted it failed to maintain an effective program (despite assuring the DEA otherwise) focused on preventing prescription drugs from making it onto the black market. It provided the agency with misleading information so it could boost manufacturing quotas, and paid doctors through a speakers program as incentive for them to write more painkiller prescriptions.
The company will pay the federal government $225 million in the settlement, which is just a fraction of the $8.3 billion it owes in penalties and forfeitures. Paying the smaller amount is dependent on Purdue executing settlements while moving through bankruptcy court with state and local governments, and other groups that are also suing the company.
Many of the other plaintiffs are unsatisfied with the settlement, AP notes, especially because members of the Sackler family who own Purdue are not facing criminal charges and, despite owing the U.S. government millions and giving up control of the company, will not see their overall wealth affected significantly. Several state attorneys general also oppose Purdue's plans for future settlements, which include transforming into a public benefit corporation that would use its proceeds to address the opioid crisis. Read more at The Associated Press.