Written by Daniel Maloney (News Writer)
The massive pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma, is pleading guilty to federal criminal charges and is being dissolved. This is due to its massive role in the start of the opioid epidemic in the United States, by aggressively marketing the drug, knowing doctors prescribed the medication “without a legitimate medical purpose.” The company is paying over $8 billion in charges, but they do not have the money to pay for this, as they filed for bankruptcy in September of last year. Because of this, Purdue is being dissolved, and its assets will be used to create a new “public benefit company” controlled and designed for the benefit of the American people, which will still produce medications such as OxyContin. In a separate case, the former owners of Purdue Pharma, the Sackler family, reached a civil settlement of over $225 million.
Abuse of prescription painkillers, such as OxyContin is a massive cause of the nation’s opioid crisis. Around half a million people have died of opioid overdoses in the past 20 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control, with about a third of opioid-related deaths being from prescribed medications.
In a letter sent to Attorney General William Barr, 25 state attorneys general urged the justice department to “avoid having special ties to an opioid company” that “caused a national crisis.” “The public should be confident that public officials are seeking to avoid having special ties to an opioid company, conflicts of interest, or mixed motives in an industry that caused a national crisis,” said the letter. Additionally, almost three dozen members of Congress also sent a letter to Barr insisting that any resolution of Perdue’s role in the opioid crisis should result in prison time for company owners and executives. “Purdue and the Sackler family perpetrated one of the most egregious criminal acts in American history,” lawmakers argued in the letter, calling for more aggressive prosecutions. Although Perdue is going to pay more than $8 billion, it is only a tiny portion of what has cost the federal, state, and local governments have to combat the crises. With all of the filled claims topping $2 trillion.
Members of the Sackler family withdrew more than $10 billion from Purdue Pharma and put the money in family trusts. A spokesperson for the family said, “Members of the Sackler family who served on Purdue’s board of directors acted ethically and lawfully, and the upcoming release of company documents will prove that fact in detail.”