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Federal Government Targets Major Drug Dealer: Purdue Pharma

Purdue Pharmaceuticals will plead guilty to three federal charges as part of an $8 billion settlement related to the production of OxyContin. Purdue and other pharmaceutical companies have been accused of lying to doctors about the addictiveness of their medication and funding pill farms by allowing small rural communities to purchase major quantities of the opioid that far surpassed their population. Other charges include conspiracy to defraud the United States and arranging kickbacks for doctors and clinics.

The judgment is expected to put Purdue Pharma into bankruptcy where their assets will be handled by a bankruptcy judge and a trustee. While the deal punishes the company itself, individual executives have not been absolved of wrongdoing. They can still face charges related to their individual roles in causing what has been dubbed “the opioid epidemic.” 

Half a Million Deaths Since 2000

The federal prosecution seeks to hold Purdue and similar pharmaceutical companies accountable for the nearly half a million deaths caused since 2000. President Trump made the opioid crisis a part of his campaign promises, but the crisis took a back seat to the COVID pandemic. 

Purdue will be required to admit that it impeded a federal investigation into how their drugs were making it onto the streets so easily. The company is accused of allowing smaller communities to purchase huge volumes of OxyContin and other opioid-based painkillers for sale and distribution on the streets. The federal government accuses Purdue of misleading officials concerning the quality of their efforts concerning avoiding the drugs from being diverted onto the streets. Purdue told the DEA they had “robust controls” but continually ignored obvious red flags like a community of 10,000 people ordering enough OxyContin to fill the needs of double that number. 

Purdue is also accused of violating federal anti-kickback laws. They accuse the company of inducing doctors to write more prescriptions by paying them to give speeches. Purdue is also accused of manipulating medical records software to increase prescriptions. 

The $8 billion fine includes $225 million which will be paid directly to the government. Purdue also faces a $3.5 billion fine that will be part of the bankruptcy estate when that gets sorted out. Purdue has agreed to set aside $2.8 billion in civil claims related to personal injury lawsuits filed against them for opioid-based medications. 

Purdue No Longer a Corporation

As part of the settlement, Purdue will be converted into a public benefit company. Its assets would be held in a trust, and the trust would be managed by someone who weighs stockholder interests against the general public. One of the main concerns regarding drug companies is that their fiduciary responsibility is to their stockholders and not the public interest.

Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been accused of drug trafficking in the Chicago area, then you need an attorney. Call David Freidberg today at (312) 560-7100 to learn more about how we can protect your future and your interests from criminal prosecution. 

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