For creating OxyContin, Purdue will be shut down.
High-strength painkillers like OxyContin have been repeatedly cited as one of the major causes of the opioid crisis that has been plaguing the United States for years. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, the company that created OxyContin, Purdue Pharma, played an active role in increasing the circulation of the drug and squashing attempts to limit it. Purdue has been formally charged as a primary cause of the opioid crisis, and today, they have admitted to their culpability.
Purdue has formally pleaded guilty to three federal criminal charges for their role in the creation of OxyContin and the escalation of the opioid crisis. As penance for their actions, the company will be paying damages totaling over $8 billion, followed by a full closure of their brand. $3.5 billion will be paid as a fine for the charges, $2 billion of the company’s past profits will be forfeited, and $2.8 billion will be paid in civil liability charges. Once the company has been completed dismantled, its resources will be used to create a new, government-run company that will work toward combating the opioid crisis.
According to the DEA’s report, Purdue violated anti-kickback laws that are in place to prevent drug companies from coercing doctors and pharmacists to prescribe their products. Purdue effectively paid doctors to prescribe more painkillers, specifically OxyContin, than was necessary, which both prompted addiction in patients and allowed large quantities of the drug to enter illegal circulation.
“Purdue Pharma actively thwarted the United States’ efforts to ensure compliance and prevent diversion,” said Drug Enforcement Administration Assistant Administrator Tim McDermott. “The devastating ripple effect of Purdue’s actions left lives lost and others addicted.”
Several US states had previously filed separate lawsuits against Purdue in search of damages, claiming that the opioid crisis they caused have cost the US economy at least $2.15 trillion. It is not currently known whether these lawsuits will be maintained after Purdue has been dismantled, though there is a possibility that the owners of the company may have criminal charges leveled against them directly.