OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma could plead guilty to criminal charges

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma could plead guilty to criminal charges

Purdue Pharma could soon plead guilty to criminal charges and pay billions of dollars in penalties to resolve a federal probe of its alleged role in the nation’s opioid crisis, a new report says.

The Connecticut-based drugmaker behind the addictive painkiller OxyContin is negotiating a plea deal with the US Justice Department that could be announced within the next two weeks, Reuters reported Wednesday, citing several sources familiar with the matter.

The talks follow allegations from federal and state authorities that Purdue aggressively marketed OxyContin and downplayed its potential for abuse, fueling a deadly opioid epidemic. The company has also been accused of paying illegal kickbacks to doctors and pharmacies.

The deal under consideration would see Purdue plead guilty to charges including conspiracy, breaking an anti-kickback law and misbranding under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, according to Reuters.

The company would also be hit with a roughly $3.5 billion criminal fine, a $2 billion criminal forfeiture charge and a $2.8 billion penalty to settle separate civil claims against it, the news agency reported.

But the wealthy Sackler family that owns Purdue would reportedly escape criminal charges under the proposed deal, though its members have offered some $3 billion to settle civil lawsuits.

Some members of the family are in talks to pay an additional civil penalty of about $225 million over allegations related to false claims for Purdue painkillers that were filed with government health-care programs, Reuters reported.

The Justice Department could also waive most of the $2 billion forfeiture claim against Purdue if the company gives significant amounts of money to communities ravaged by the opioid crisis and wins court approval for a reorganization plan that would turn it into a “public benefit company” that’s not controlled by the Sacklers, according to the report.

Terms of the potential deal could change, however, because talks between Purdue and the feds are “fluid,” Reuters reported.

Purdue — which filed for bankruptcy last year while facing a bevy of lawsuits over the opioid crisis — did not confirm specific details of the reported settlement, but said it is in talks with federal prosecutors about resolving their investigations of the company.

Purdue says it wants a settlement that would “deliver more than $10 billion in value” to tackle the opioid crisis, including all of the company’s assets.

“Our proposed settlement structure would provide needed funds, as well as millions of doses of lifesaving opioid addiction treatment and overdose reversal medicines, to states and local communities to help abate the opioid crisis,” Purdue said in a statement.

A Justice Department spokeswoman told Reuters that its reporting on the settlement talks “contains inaccuracies and is highly misleading,” but did not elaborate on those concerns.

With Post wires

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